Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora has commended the intervention of the Senate President Bukola Saraki on the plights of Nigeria students who were on government scholarship abroad.
The commendation is contained in a statement issued by Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Special Assistant on Media to Hon. Dabiri-Erewa in Abuja on Thursday.
Saraki had on Wednesday met with the representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) responsible for the welfare of Nigerian Students on scholarships abroad now stranded due to non-payment of their living allowances and tuition fees by relevant government agencies.
Dabiri-Erewa, who had earlier, pleaded for the payment of the stranded Nigerian students abroad, said that the only way out is an appropriation to clear the outstanding backlog of the students’ allowances.
“It is criminal to send students out on scholarship and turn them to scavengers’’, Dabiri-Erewa lamented.She appealed to the National Assembly to put a stop to the lamentations of the students by capturing the backlog in the 2018 budget.
The Presidential aide who had visited some of the students abroad and witnessed their pitiable conditions, expressed hope that with the National Assembly intervention, “the lamentations of students on scholarship would become a thing of the past’’.
It would be recalled that the Senate in plenary session had mandated the President of the Senate to intervene and know why Nigerian students on scholarships in foreign countries are yet to be paid their scholarship funds.
At the meeting on Wednesday, Saraki had directed the Federal Scholarship Board (FSB) to urgently present a comprehensive report of all Nigerian students on scholarship abroad and their outstanding entitlements to the relevant committees of the Senate to enable the Senate make Appropriations for their settlement.
“As some of you may know, I was in Russia last month to participate at the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), and I heard first-hand the plight of our students for whom the expected scholarship funding has dried up,” Saraki said. “The overwhelming feeling on the part of these students is one of abandonment by their motherland.”
He decried a situation where several brilliant Nigerian students on federal scholarships are languishing abroad due to the inability of the Federal Government to pay its counterpart funding of the scholarships awarded under bilateral agreements with the foreign governments.
The Director in charge of Scholarship at the Federal Scholarship Board (FSB), Fatima Ahmad, had told the Senators than there is an outstanding of N2.4 Billion in scholarships yet to be settled by the Board due to inadequate or lack of budgetary provisions.