Over 160 Nigerian students who are on the federal government scholarship in Russia are now begging to survive due to lack the non-payment of their allowances in the last six months, it was revealed yesterday.
This revelation was made yesterday by the leader of the Association of the Federal Government Doctoral Candidates in Russia, Godwin Ezinkwo, during an interactive session with the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs.
Ezinkwo who stated that there are about 150 under graduate and 10 post-graduate students currently studying in Russia on the FG scholarship said that this is the worst form of scholarship by the Nigerian government.
Ezinkwo informed the committee that for six months now, they have not been paid their allowances, a situation that made them to beg their counterparts from other African countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe and the rest for assistance.
He said that the students also suffer in terms of accommodation because most of them are yet to pay for their houses, adding that they currently face eviction.
“Russia is a very hostile country in terms of weather and other things. It is very embarrassing and difficult to cope. Nigerian students are now living at the mercy of other African scholarship students like Ghana, Zimbabwe and all that. They lend money to us, so Nigerian students are like beggars. They’re begging, if one has to use that word. It’s as bad; begging other students from African countries. It’s demoralizing.
We also have to bring up the issue of accommodation. The agreement in its raw form provides accommodation for students, but unfortunately some of the host countries do not honour this agreement. Students are made to pay for accommodation, but they’re unable to pay for the accommodation, because their stipends and remittances for at least six months have not been paid. As I speak to you now, students are going to be evicted from their hostels because they cannot pay for the accommodation,” he said.
“We have the issue of medical insurance. Because the allowances for all these have not been remitted, students are also going to be evicted, because you cannot stay in somebody’s hostel if you’re not medically certified,” he said.
He said that they had written several letters to see the Nigerian ambassador to Russia in order to have a one-on-one interaction with him on their plight but in vain.
“With due respect, this is the worst form of scholarship obtainable from Nigeria when you take a look at scholarship programmes such as the PTDF, NUC Presidential Scholarship, TETfund, NDDC, ITF and even state scholarship programmes. The irony of the whole situation is that students are sent to one of the most expensive places in the world with the worst welfare package,” he said.
Chairman of the committee, Rep Abike Dabiri-Erewa (ACN, Lagos) assured that the House would do everything within its reach to unravel the matter in order to help the students.
“It is shameful that Nigerian students that are sent on scholarship to other countries have resorted to begging. It is really a sad commentary. You don’t deserve this kind of treatment. We should be ashamed that this is happening. How can you be good ambassadors if you’re treated this way?
“We are going to do our work. We’ll meet with the ministry of education and the relevant stakeholders and find out what the real situation is. We will get back to you when we finish our findings” she said.