Again, NDDC scholars hold protest in UK over non-payment of bursaries
AGAIN, students on scholarship for foreign studies financed by the Niger Delta Development Commission are protesting the non-payment of their tuition fees and stipends by the commission.
The protesting students gathered at the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom on Thursday with placards demanding their payment.
The students who identified themselves as 94 students of the 2018 batch were seen protesting against batch payment of tuition fees by the commission.
“We are saying no to batch payments, we are all beneficiaries and should be treated equally,” one of their placards read.
The students had in a statement said the management of the commission deliberately excluded their names from the previous payment of the scholarship.
“The NDDC selectively handpicked those it paid without any defined criteria and is refusing to pay fees, grants, and upkeep of 2018 scholars for no justifiable reason whatsoever,” the students reportedly said.
According to them, the upkeep and fees of the scholars have been traditionally paid as they are incurred.
“This came as a rude shock to us because historically, the NDDC had always paid the fees and upkeep of scholars in the order in which they were incurred, that is, from the earliest to the latest,” the statement read.
Charles Odili, the NDDC spokesperson reportedly said the students are part of “powerful individuals who are part of the systemic corruption uncovered” by the commission’s interim management.
“In 2018, the Commission paid a total of $900,000.00 (Nine hundred Thousand Dollars) only to cover the Commission’s obligations to its scholars.
“In 2019, the amount paid rose to a total of $3.5million (Three million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars) only. Recently, the IMC paid out a total of $5.99m (Five Million, Nine Hundred and Ninety Thousand Dollars) to cover all the verified obligations to our scholars.
“Now, there is a demand for an additional payment of $3million (Three Million Dollars), bringing the total to an alarming $9million (Nine Million Dollars),” Odili said.
In August, Odili had said the students, who recently staged a protest at the Nigerian High Commission in London, would receive their money.
He stated that the delay in payment was due to the sudden death of the former Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Ibanga Etang, in May.