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NDDC scholars protest in London over abandonment by government

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SCORES of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) scholarship beneficiaries on Monday, protested abandonment by the government, lamenting unpaid tuition and allowances.

The scholars who gathered at the Nigeria High Commission in London, were captured holding placards with several inscriptions, expressing disappointment and demanding a resolution from the government.

The protest which was captured on video was shared on Twitter via handle, @2019Nddc.

As part of their demands, the scholars sought audience with President Muhammadu Buhari, disclosing that they risk deportation from the United Kingdom (UK) over failure to pay their tuition and meet up with monetary requirements of their courses in the UK.

The aggrieved scholars also lamented the non-payment of their fees for one year since they were awarded scholarships.

In response to their grievances, an official of the Nigerian High Commission in London was seeing in the video urging for calm, promising that their worries would be relayed to the appropriate channels.

“My integrity will be at stake if I call somebody else to act as the minister on the telephone. It will not solve your problem. What matters most is that we are giving you our words,” he said.

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Earlier in May, students sponsored to Europe for post-graduate studies by the NDDC who were reportedly stranded abroad because of the lack of funding from the commission, sent a letter to the Ahmad Lawan, Senate President, demanding payment for their studies.

The students said that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated struggles to survive abroad.

“While we had survived with working as bar attendants, warehouse assistants and even care workers during these nine months of being sent overseas without upkeep, this ‘assistive’ source of income has been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said about 25 students who signed the letter to  Lawan on behalf of the “2019 NDDC scholars.”

“With the pandemic, scholars are unable to meet up with their basic obligations like rent and feeding and are living on the constant threat of ejection by their landlords in different parts of the world,” the letter read in part.

Meanwhile, the NDDC is enmeshed in a huge corruption scandal which is currently being investigated by the National Assembly.

The ICIR had earlier reported how Kemebradikumo Pondei, the acting Managing Director of the NDDC fainted during hearing held by House of Representative investigative panel in Abuja.

Pondei lost consciousness while answering questions by the House Committee on NDDC over alleged misappropriation of funds.

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He fainted after a member of the panel raised questions about N641 million paid to a particular Clear Point Communications and N536 million to another company for a campaign tagged Save Lives in the Niger Delta.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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