The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has always assured it will pay up allowances of its foreign scholars, but nobody seems to know when they paid. Now, the scholars in various universities in the United Kingdom, whose stipends and fees are still outstanding, will get them next week, the management has assured.
This follows the resolution of issues with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which had delayed the remittance of the monies for the past six weeks. Some of the universities have already got their funds.
The scholars, who fall under the 2018 Foreign Scholarship Programme, were awarded funding to study in disciplines of critical development needs in various UK universities.
The new management of the commission, which assumed office in late January this year, took an active interest in the welfare of the scholars and worked proactively to meet their needs so they could focus on their academic pursuits.
In March, the Acting Managing Director of the Commission, Prof Nelson Braimbaifa and the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Dr Chris Amadi, toured the United Kingdom for a first hand appraisal of the welfare needs of the scholars. During the tour, the executives met with the management of the universities as well as the scholars.
One of the issues that came up was the late remittance of fees to the universities and the payment of allowances. The executive management promised to address the concerns immediately.
On their return to Nigeria, the management commenced the payment of fees and allowances. The last batch got held up at the Central Bank because of regulatory issues which have now been resolved.
We have kept in contact with the school authorities throughout the period of the delay to ensure the academic programmes of the scholars were not adversely affected. We have also been in touch with the students to ascertain their well-being and can confirm that all our scholars are in their schools of enrolment. None of them has been deported to Nigeria for whatever reason.
We have particularly checked on Mr Kevin Odungeri, one of our scholars who was rumoured to have been deported. He has confirmed that he is safe and in school. In his own words, he ‘was at no time deported out of the United Kingdom’.
The commission wishes to reassure all stakeholders that as an intervention agency focused on the development of the Niger Delta, it sees human capacity development as one of the fundamentals of its mandate. As a result, the Commission will always ensure that the beneficiaries of its scholarship programmes are supported to excel in their studies.