FEATURE ARTICLE

Temple Chima UbochiFriday, October 21, 2016
ubochit@hotmail.de
Bonn, Germany

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THE PLIGHT OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS ON FEDERAL SCHOLARSHIP IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES (PICTORIAL)

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Friends share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand (Henri Nouwen)

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world (Nelson Mandela)

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person (Albert Schweitzer)

Education is the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in (Abraham Lincoln)

Our worst crime is abandoning the children...

Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot (Gabriela Mistral)

ome Nigerian students, on federal scholarship abroad, contacted me to help them bring their plight to the notice of the authorities in Nigeria. I told them that they are better placed, than me, to say exactly what they are going, through in foreign lands, and as such, that they must narrate their stories themselves. One thing is clear: The federal government has abandoned the Nigerian students it sent out to study, on scholarship, abroad. Remember that our clueless and heartless president asked parents, who can't have access to foreign exchange, to pay for their children's school fees abroad, to withdraw them, and bring them back to Nigeria to study, as not everybody, according the president, is entitled to have access to foreign exchange. If the president said that to parents sponsoring their children's education abroad, think of what he thinks of those on federal scholarship?

To be precise, in the first weekend of March 2016, during a trip to Qatar, President Muhammadu Buhari advised parents, whose children are studying outside the country, to have a rethink. President Buhari told Aljazeera, in response to concerns that some Nigerian students abroad were on the verge of dropping out over inability to pay certain fees: "We cannot devalue the Naira because some people have their children in schools abroad. We have to consider the consequences on the economy and Nigeria as a whole. So if some parents are finding it difficult to pay, let them return their kids to Nigeria to complete their education." President Buhari concluded that his own children are studying abroad, because he can afford to pay their school fees.

The point here is that the Nigerian students already on scholarship abroad want everybody, who can help, to join in creating awareness of their plight. They said that they have gone too far, in their studies, to drop out now, as such the federal government should complete what they started (see their education through). These students are ready to complete their program, and only want the government to provide them the wherewithal, on regular basis, and that's an obligation, the government owes them, as Hodding Carter (1907-1972) wrote that "There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings". So, the federal ministry of education and the presidency should do something, as soon as possible, to succor the Nigerian students they sent abroad. It's unfortunate that President Buhari came and changed everything for the worse (brought only hardship and suffering to the Nigerian people, at home and abroad). Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was right, when he said that "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children".

One of suffering students, Tsavnande Orseer James, wrote that "It's a thing of great joy to anyone who has been awarded a studying scholarship, both at home and abroad. The same joy was seen on the faces of young Nigerians, when they were awarded a studying scholarship on (a) Bilateral Educational Agreement (BEA) - A scheme funded by the Federal Government, and awarded to young Nigerians who wedre qualified to study in various disciplines in Foreign countries as Morocco, Russia, Algeria, Serbia, Hungary, Turkey etc.

Over the years, the scheme recorded great achievement, as many have passed through the scheme with little or no hitches. This was credited to the previous governments' efforts in seeing to the well being of the students by adequately paying their bills and upkeep allowances/entitlements.

The story has long changed since the coming on board of President Muhammadu Buhari. The Bilateral Educational Agreement has recorded severe challenges, as the bills of the students have not been settled as from November 2015 to October 2016 (12 months).

The students on scholarship in foreign countries have written open letters, articles with no response from the government. An interview with some of the students, in Morocco and Russia, who pleaded anonymity respectively, said that life has been so unbearable for them; hence their studies were placed on hold. They added that they cannot work to earn any money, and as a result of this hardship, they wander around like refugees seeking for refuge.

The aim of every scholarship is to help the less privilege citizens have access to education, but one will wonder why the government will send people on scholarship, without paying adequate attention to their plight.

The smile and joy of the students have been gradually dragged into the mud and sorry. Indeed it is true that you have to go through something to get something, and in other to get something, you give out something. On the part of the students, they are going through a lot to see to the success of their program. The government on their own part should therefore also strive hard and make more efforts in seeing to the well being of the students, for they will one day be the major players of the economy of this Nation.

To sum it all, the students are not ignorant of the hardship and situations at hand in the country: they sympathize with the government and people of Nigeria, but still, also plead with President Muhammadu Buhari to come to their aid and settle all pending allowances, so that they can continue with their studies abroad.

Those in Russia, through the Association on Nigerian Scholarship Students In Russia, wrote: "We Pray For Scholarship Not Hardship". They sent me these to share with Nigerians everywhere, so that all can help in bringing their plight to the notice of the relevant authorities in Nigeria.

My name is Adzege Faeren, and I am a Nigerian scholar currently studying in Russia under the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) scholarship scheme.

Three years ago, I was sent to Russia to study Medicine with many mouthwatering promises accompanying it. One of them was the promise of monthly stipends from the Nigerian government. However, this promise has never been a reality for us. I am most certain that many people reading this are already familiar with this yearly outcry from scholarship students abroad, but, we will still cry anyway.

For the past ten months, we have not received any support from the Federal Government of Nigeria in form of stipends. What's even more disheartening is the fact that the Russian government ALWAYS fulfills their part of the bilateral agreement (paying our tuition), yet our fatherland forgets about us totally.

The inability of the Nigerian Government to pay our stipends in time has left us borrowing and owing. With a new session in view, scholarship students are left with the option of getting money through various illegal means or risk being thrown out of our hostels and subsequently getting deported. Also, we need to renew our health insurances, extend our visas and buy warm clothes in preparation for the winter. Unfortunately, we can't get these done on credit.

There are also cases of some recent graduates under the scholarship scheme (majority with first class honors) who are trapped in Russia without funds for plane tickets and little or nothing from the promised stipends with which to head home. There are also other cases which are worse. Yet, our government at the top seem undisturbed. This leads me to wonder, "Will our leaders, decision makers and those concerned with disbursement of funds treat us this way if we were their children?"

It takes little to lose hope, and for the best to be lost to foreign lands or even violence. This is where most of it starts from - the neglect. We pray that the Federal Government of Nigeria will consider our plight and do the honorable thing by seeing to it that our stipends are paid so we can work hard to accomplish much, then get back to better our land.

Thank you.

N.B: Please, help create awareness; share this post anywhere you feel will draw the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria: Facebook, Twitter, Media houses and more. God bless us all!

Finally, as an addendum: Let's not abandon these Nigerian students, let's take up their case, as a Nigerian Proverb says "It takes a village to raise a child". The Nigerian government sent them out, it should also cater for them until the completion of their education.

TIT BITS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQo6jeXT-cY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEEMi2j6lYE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNJL6nfu__Q

THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!

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