A letter posted by a Mr. Ime Ben addressed to the NDDC concerning the lack of financial assistance to the Nigerian scholars in the United Kingdom comes as quite a saddening shock to us all.
Read the letter below:
Sir: I humbly plead for your assistance in helping to draw the attention of NDDC Management lead by Mr Nsima Ekere to pay our school fees and upkeep.
It’s been over one year since we set out for studies on foreign soils sponsored by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). According to the award letter, the scholarship amounts to $30,000 dollars per year. This amount is to cover tuition and upkeep.
But up till now, many of us have not been paid (either tuition or upkeep). Some people (PhD students) who started in 2015 are owed close to two years fees and upkeep. We are really suffering; most schools have shut us out of their facilities. Landlords have chased us out of accommodation; even feeding is very difficult.
Most of us are from very poor families; we had to borrow money to travel hoping to pay back whenever NDDC pays.
We have tried every means to contact the NDDC office, yet no response. The most worrisome thing is that no one is saying anything about the payment and it seems it may never come.
We have done everything to draw the attention of NDDC Managing Director. This includes emails, using social media, text messages and phone calls. But each time, Mr Ekere comes out to address the press saying he has ordered payment or with one excuse or other.
During the last press briefing by the NDDC MD, he used the excuse of some of us changing schools. This is a very flimsy excuse because none of us changed schools without due approval letter from NDDC management. The change of school itself is often necessitated by the fact that the NDDC scholarship funds of $30,000.00 (which is often paid as £19,200.00) is often inadequate to pay schools fees in high ranking UK universities (with school fees above £25,000.00). Thus we had to change schools to universities with lower fees (based on advice from NDDC). Currently, there is no UK university with fees less than £10,000.00 for Nigerian students. So the £19,200.00 often paid by NDDC is hardly adequate for fees and upkeep.
It is important to note that all change in schools is always duly approved by NDDC management with a duly signed letter to that effect. So this cannot be used as an excuse.
We are suffering. The hardship experienced out here (in a country where the colour of your skin and the very fact that you are a Nigerian is a disadvantage) cannot be properly explained.
I humbly plead for help in drawing the attention of the NDDC management and even the federal government to come to our help.
Glasgow, United Kingdom.
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