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Report: Nigerian scholars abroad face expulsion as stipends go unpaid for 11 months

Foreign scholars on Nigerian government scholarships have voiced their distress over the 11-month delay in receiving their allowances
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Foreign scholars on Nigerian government scholarships have voiced their distress over the 11-month delay in receiving their allowances, with many facing the threat of expulsion due to unpaid tuition and mounting financial pressures.

The Union of Nigerian Bilateral Education Agreement Scholars, representing the students, disclosed on Sunday that the prolonged non-payment by the Federal Government is severely impacting both their academic progress and their ability to meet basic living expenses.

“Some students in China have not received any stipends since they arrived in April and May 2023. In Russia, students are struggling with the increased cost of living due to sanctions.

“This pattern of delayed payments has persisted for years, diverting our focus from academic pursuits to survival (contemplating our next meal, daily transport, pending payments, medical expenses, and housing.),” the statement read in part.

The BEA scholarship is for education exchange between Nigeria and the partnering countries.
The scholarship scheme is being supervised by the Federal Scholarship Board under the Federal Ministry of Education.

The students said despite efforts to get their message to the government through respective embassies and the Federal Scholarship Board, their plight had been left unattended.

They also noted their abysmal living conditions in the countries of study.

For instance, they decried the situation in countries like Venezuela and Morrocco where there are no adequate provisions for accommodation, thereby forcing the students to take apartments and pay rent every month.

In context, in a video posted on Sunday by Nigerian Scholars in Diaspora, a woman believed to be the landlady of some of the students could be seen lamenting their conditions.

“It gives me your headache, your situation,” she lamented.

When one of the students pleaded for more time to sort out their rent arrears, she responded, “It no longer concerns me. Our agreement was for you to pay monthly. I have had enough of this.”

In another video, Anka, who said she is an estate agent, is seen calling on the Nigerian government to come to the aid of the students.

“It’s been a while since they paid their rent. Anytime I meet them, they tell me this month or next month. Up till now, I have received nothing.

Please do something for these children. These apartments belong to other people and they are asking for their money,” she pleaded
To drive home their demands, the affected students staged a protest as seen in one of the videos.

Their placards had several captions, including “FG Nigeria, help us. Nine months no money”, “Scholarship not hardship, “BEA scholarship students in financial distress,” among others
No official at the Federal Ministry of Education replied to inquiries by our correspondent on the matter at the time of filing this report.

In his goodwill message, Benue State Governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, who bagged a good governance award, advanced reasons the journalists are not easily understood by the public.

He said, “A journalist has a life that cannot be easily understood. If you’re not transparent, if you’re not responsible; if you are not up to defending the masses and human rights, you can never be a friend of journalists because they will expose you.

“A journalist is a student of a critical school not only of criticism but of ensuring that what the society must have, should have.”

He described the award as an incentive for him to do more and place Benue State on a development trajectory nationally and internationally.

Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum; the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari; the Statistician-General of the Federation and Chief Executive Officer, National Bureau of Statistics, Adeyemi Adeniran and Director General, Nigerian Television Authority, Salihu Dembos, all bagged the good governance award.

Umar Audu of the Daily Nigerian Newspaper bagged the Anyim Ude prize for the best investigative reporter of the year for his report exposing a degree racketeering syndicate in a Cotonou University, Benin Republic.

Other awardees included Edwin Philip, Pauline Vana and Tayo Ikujunni of the Breeze FM, Lafia, NTA Maiduguri and News Agency of Nigeria respectively.

Renowned journalists, Gbenga Onayiga and member, Niger Delta Development Commission, Abdulrazzak Namdas, bagged Defender of Press Freedom and Life Achievement awards, respectively.

Distinguished personalities at the event included a former military governor of Katsina State, Maj. Gen. Lawrence Onoja (retd.), ex-National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Barnabas Gemade, among others.

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