Ten days after President Muhammadu Buhari directed the Niger Delta Development Commission to pay the tuition of its 2019 scholars, the commission has yet to obey the presidential directive.
Over 200 scholars were awarded scholarships by the NDDC in 2019 to pursue postgraduate studies abroad, fully funded by the commission. Each beneficiary was supposed to get N500,000 as a take-off grant and $30,000 for tuition.
However, a year after the scholarship was granted, the commission has not paid the scholars’ tuition, with many of them facing expulsion and subsequent deportation from the countries where they are studying.
Findings also showed that the NDDC only paid the take-off grant of N500,000, about eight months after the scholarships were awarded. Many Nigerians had expressed outrage at the commission’s negligence amid corruption allegations running into billions of naira leveled against it.
A former acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Dr. Joi Nunieh, had accused the commission’s Interim Management Committee of misappropriation of funds and alleged that the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, hijacked the forensic audit of the agency ordered by the President a claim which Godwill Akpabio denied.
Regarding the payment of scholars, a presidential order came in that the students be paid which was closely followed by a statement which partly read’ “has ordered that all stops be pulled to pay the students by the end of this week (August 7).”
However, about ten days after the presidential order, the NDDC has yet to pay its abandoned scholars, some of whom are said to be facing hardship abroad. The spokesperson for the 2019 NDDC Scholars, Mr. Olukayode Olugbemi, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, said it was frustrating that their tuition fees had yet to be paid despite the President’s directive. He hinted that the scholars might embark on another protest, saying it had become necessary to let the President know that his directive had yet to be obeyed by the NDDC.
When contacted, the NDDC said all issues relating to the payment of its scholarship beneficiaries studying abroad would be sorted out next week. The commission’s Director, Corporate Affairs, Charles Odili, disclosed this in a telephone interview with Punch.