Many beneficiaries of the (Niger Delta Development Commission) NDDC International Postgraduate Scholarship scheme have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and save them from being thrown out of school due to non-payment of tuition fees among others.

In two letters made available to CITY LAWYER, the PHD scholars who are studying in Russia and the United Kingdom stated that “our sponsor has again defaulted in remitting our tuition and upkeep overdue for payment since May 2021, thus leaving us destitute and in severe suffering, as well as exposing us to danger especially given the COVID-19 pandemic times that we currently live in.”

They also noted that “Previous payments only came in after your timely intervention through a presidential order after series of protests in the United Kingdom by scholars, and we still have a few number of us whose payments were omitted.”

Titled “REQUEST FOR YOUR FATHERLY INTERVENTION ON THE PAYMENT OF OUR TUITION AND UPKEEP GRANT,” the letter read: “We the awardees of NDDC international postgraduate scholarship in the UK and across the world, in pursuit of doctoral research in various field of study, sincerely thank you for availing us with the opportunity to be international scholars under your immeasurable leadership. We are not oblivious of your immerse (sic) and timely intervention in August, 2020 which led to the payments of a-year overdue tuition and stipends to majority MSc and PhD Scholars who were hitherto abandoned, we are eternally grateful and appreciate you for all your efforts in handling the numerous challenges threatening to divide our nation.”

According to the scholars, “In the light of the withdrawal letters issued to 5 PhD scholars by their schools and the present inhumane conditions such a few of us have been subjected to across the various universities due to default in the payment of our tuition/upkeeps by the commission. We hereby, in humility of heart submit this letter to appeal for your fatherly intervention on our behalf. The scholarship is valued at $30,000 (Thirty Thousand U.S. Dollars) only per year which covers tuition, accommodation and living expenses and is supposed to be paid out annually for a maximum of 3 years for all Ph.D. scholars.”

Noting that the 2018 awardees “should be submitting thesis early next year,” the stranded students said: “We are in a very desperate situation as our schools are on our necks to pay our tuition, yet we can barely feed and settle basic bills. We have had to reach out to charity organizations for help and beg our schools’ officials and landlords to give us more time. So, we use this medium to appeal to you sir, as the father of the nation Nigeria, to please intervene on our matter and see to the full funding of our scholarship. It is abnormal for NDDC to be waiting for its scholars to embark on protests in embassies and high commissions overseas before it settles fees of scholars sent abroad for the good of the country and region.”

The letter was copied to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) of Nigeria, Mr. Boss Mustapha; Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawal; Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

It is recalled that the Niger Delta Students Association recently staged a protest in Port Harcourt in solidarity with the stranded scholars.

Following an earlier protest, NDDC’s Corporate Affairs Director, Mr. Charles Odili had said, “In keeping with our commitment to funding the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Foreign Scholarship Programme, the Interim Management Committee, IMC, has paid $5,910,000 to 197 scholarship beneficiaries of 2019, while payment processes for 94 beneficiaries of 2018 are ongoing.

“Among the 197 beneficiaries are 43 scholars for Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, comprising 12 for 2016 and 31 for 2019. This category got $30,000 each, amounting to $1,290,000. The Masters category has 154 MSC beneficiaries of 2019, who were paid $30,000 each, amounting to $4, 420,000. The payment processes for 94 beneficiaries of 2018; 40 for Ph.D. and 54 for MSC, are ongoing.”

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