The incessant protests by Nigerian students in the United Kingdom is “embarrassing”, an official of the Nigerian High Commission in London has said.
About 34 postgraduate students protested on Monday at the Nigerian High Commission in London, blocking the three entrances to the embassy building.
The aggrieved students are among the 94 students of the Batch 2018 of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) foreign scholarship programme who are yet to receive tuition and allowance for their upkeep from their sponsor – the NDDC.
Their scholarship has not been funded at all, for two years now, while other students in succeeding batches have received remittances from the NDDC.
The NDDC, which hitherto described the students as “hirelings masquerading as the Commission’s scholars”, last week said they were making an arrangement to get the money across to the students.
It appealed for understanding and patience from the students.
The Monday protest was the second in about a month at the Nigerian High Commission over the yet to be resolved issue.
“We are not happy with what is happening, it is a shame to us. It is embarrassing. If we have our way, this money would have been paid this minute,” an embassy official said while addressing the protesting student, in a video seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
The official, said to be a deputy commissioner, refused to mention his name to the students, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
“I don’t know, some of you I have met before because your group has been here more than twice,” the embassy official said to the students.
“This is the fifth time,” the students interjected.
The official said the embassy was aware of the students’ plight and was doing whatever they could to help. “We have made effort for your money to be paid and we will continue to make effort. We in the high commission have not rested concerning this matter,” he said.
“The high commissioner told me that he spoke with the minister of the Niger Delta Affairs on this matter and he believes that they are doing something about it,” he added.
The official, who said the NDDC did not get the embassy to be involved in the scholarship programme, said he could not say categorically when the students would get funding from the NDDC management.
“I don’t know. I cannot… I am just saying what we think would happen, not that we are very sure. But we are hoping it will happen,” he said.
A student who spoke on behalf of the other students said the NDDC and the Nigerian government have “completely abandoned” them in the United Kingdom.
“We are doing all sorts of menial jobs to survive,” the unidentified student said.
“A lot of us had a life before we came here, we were working, and some have families back home. Now we are in the UK, the NDDC has completely abandoned us, they went ahead to pay the 2019 set that came after us, those of us that got the award in 2018 are yet to be paid. Which responsible organisation does things like that? It is only NDDC.”
The students said the Nigerian High Commission “is the official channel to reach the Nigerian authorities, especially the president.”
They appealed to the embassy to relay their plight to the Nigerian government.
“The idea of bringing in British police to harass us in front of our own embassy is unacceptable. We are scholars, the least person here is a master’s degree holder. We have Ph.D. students here,” the student who spoke on behalf of the other students said.
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