NDDC yet to pay Scholarship Students Abroad, Two Weeks after Presidential Directive

Stranded Students Consider Another Round of Protests

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has refused to pay the stipends and school fees of Nigerian students on its scholarship scheme abroad two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari issued a directive towards this.

Over 200 Nigerian students being sponsored by the NDDC were left stranded in the US and UK after the commission failed to pay them the promised $30,000 tuition fees, paying only N500, 000 eight months after the scholarships were granted.

Many of the students lost their admissions due to the refusal of the NDDC to pay their tuition fees despite protests by the students as well as complaints from Nigerians home and abroad. President Buhari ordered the commission to pay the outstanding tuition fees of Nigerian students abroad a day after they protested at the entrance of Nigeria House in London on August 3.

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Nearly two weeks after the order was given to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, Nigerian students on NDDC scholarship abroad are still waiting to be paid.

In an interview with Punch, the spokesperson for the 2019 batch of NDDC scholarship winners, Mr. Olukayode Olugbemi said the students were deliberating on embarking on another protest since their situation has become more frustrating.

According to the spokesperson,

“Following our protest on August 3, 2020, at the Nigeria High Commission, London, and engagements with other critical stakeholders, President Muhammadu Buhari gave a presidential directive on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, mandating the Niger Delta Development Commission to ensure that no stones were left unturned to ensure the payment of the scholarship sum of the scholars before the end of the week.

“As that statement was made on a Tuesday, it effectively meant the NDDC had till Friday, August 7, 2020, to execute Mr President’s orders. The NDDC by itself confirmed this order by its tweets made on the same day and also a press statement on its website.

“(But) as at August 14, 2020, more than ten days after the President’s directive and exactly a week after the deadline given by the President, the NDDC has yet to pay its scholars. What is more frustrating is that the NDDC, just like always, has not deemed it fit to address the scholars or even the President openly to make anyone understand the cause for the delay.”

“We are forced to ask, does the President’s orders no longer carry weight? We protested and stopped operations at the Nigeria High Commission before Mr President gave the order, must we protest again, at the Nigerian High Commission, before the order would be implemented? Is it against the NDDC Act for the NDDC to address scholars to intimate of the challenges being faced, if any?

“At this time, scholars are tired of excuses and before we proceed on another protest, it has become necessary to remind Mr. President that his orders have not been implemented by the NDDC and the scholars’ situation has yet to change.”

Reacting to the situation, the NDDC promised that all matters regarding the scholarship of students on its scholarship scheme will be sorted out by next week. The director of corporate affairs Charles Odili said the delay was occasioned by the sudden death of the former executive director of finance and administration for the commission, Ibanga Etang. He said, a new director has been appointed and issues regarding payment of the tuition fees will be perfected next week.

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