•It is sad that some of Nigeria’s best students on FG’s scholarship have been abandoned abroad
The uncharitable handling of issues in Nigeria’s public life has been replicated abroad, and this is no cheering news. The latest of such dishonourable and blasé conduct is the callous failure of the Federal Government to pay the allowances of 322 Nigerian students on scholarship in Russia. The worse thing is that these students were not there on their own volition. The scholarship is not for all comers but the best brains in the country. The kid scholars were awarded scholarships after scoring distinctions in their secondary school certificate examinations and scaling the hurdles of competitive examinations before the final awards. The same applies to most graduate scholars that are pursuing higher degrees in various disciplines abroad, after bagging distinctions in their first degrees.
These students look forward to a promising study abroad, and future, subsequently. They are expected to be the trustees of the nation’s posterity. But with the official laid-back disposition and near outright abandonment by the Federal Government through non-payment of their welfare dues, it is becoming apparent that the patriotic zeal of these brilliant minds is being avoidably killed. We doubt whether any serious country will toy with the future of her best brains in this manner.
Nigeria signed a Bilateral Education Agreement Scholarship Awards (BEA) for undergraduate and post-graduate studies with some countries, including Russia, Cuba, Morocco, Algeria, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt, Japan, Serbia, Macedonia, China and Mexico. The thrust of the agreement is that the Federal Government pays for the upkeep of the students while the country of scholarship award origin pays the tuition. Russia, as host country of these students, had fulfilled her own part of the obligation to these Nigerian scholars but her Nigerian counterpart has shamelessly defaulted.
It is sad that these brilliant Nigerian students on scholarship in Russia now have to engage in demeaning jobs to survive. It is unjustifiable that for eight consecutive months since January, these 322 gifted Nigerians on the BEA initiative in Russia have not been paid any allowance by the government. Each of the beneficiaries is entitled to a $500 monthly stipend for feeding and a paltry $450 each as annual medical/clothing allowance. How much is this compared with the scandalous amounts that are reportedly being stolen from the public till by public officials on a daily basis?
As a matter of fact, these scholars’ stipends pale into insignificance when compared with the huge amount that many of our public officials spend in maintaining their wards in high profile schools abroad. Sadly, some of these public officers’ children are not as brilliant and responsible as those on scholarships, not only in Russia but in other countries, who are compelled by avoidable circumstances to face hardship. It is unimaginable that Nigerian scholars beg for food and money from less endowed citizens of countries like Ghana, Namibia, Uganda and Sierra Leone that are on the same BEA with them. Does it mean that those countries better appreciate their citizens than Nigeria?
This irresponsible act that compels Nigeria’s brilliant young girls and boys in Russia to engage in menial and odd jobs/lifestyles for survival is a dent on the country’s image. More worrisome is the report that some of the girls among them now go to clubs and dance semi-nude for a meagre fee while the boys go for mind-numbing distracting jobs of clearing of snow, working as labourers on construction sites and at warehouses despite not having work permit, with the apparent risks of arrest by the police. Some of them that are due to come for compulsory internship programmes in Nigeria are reportedly stuck in Russia due to lack of funds to procure airfare tickets. What a national shame!
We ponder scores of other sponsored luminous students in foreign universities, at government’s expense, that are facing similar fate as those that are currently suffering in Russia. Our verdict: This official dereliction of duty to these students is inhuman and capable of killing whatever patriotism is in them. Remedial steps must forthwith be taken not only on the suffering students on scholarship in Russia but on others across the globe in similar circumstance.
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