The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday tasked representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies responsible for the welfare of Nigerian students on scholarships abroad to submit details of their (students’) outstanding tuition allowances which was pegged at N2.4 billion by the Federal Scholarship Board (FSB) .
He made this request during a meeting with the representatives of the board, according to a statement signed by his special assistant on print media, Chuks Okocha.
The Senate had on Wednesday, October 25, resolved to summon various agencies of government responsible for scholarship to Nigerian students to meet with the senate president.
Briefing the senate president and other lawmakers present, the director of scholarship, FSB, Fatima Ahmad, said the country has an outstanding of N2.4 billion in scholarships yet to be settled by the board due to inadequate fund and lack of budgetary provisions.
She said for the years 2015 and 2016, there was an outstanding scholarship allowance of N799.8 million, out of which Ñ444.2 million has been paid leaving balance of Ñ355.6 million.
The senate president in response asked the MDAs to do a review of scholarship policies and submit a report with which the Senate committees would make recommendations on how to clear the backlogs through appropriation.
While lamenting the current situation of Nigerian students abroad, Mr. Saraki recounted his experience when he visited Russia.
“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. The overwhelming feeling on the part of these students is one of abandonment by their motherland,” Mr Saraki was quoted as saying.
“This feeling of abandonment is one that we must move quickly to dissipate, by working urgently to alleviate the difficulties faced by these students. We must look for ways to reestablish the pipelines and remove the bottlenecks, so that our students who went abroad with the promise and assurance of scholarship funding, will get their stipends as and when due.”
He lamented that 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 foreign governments
He was further quoted as saying: “Under the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) entered into by Nigeria and several foreign governments, some of the host countries have the responsibility for part of the upkeep of Nigerian students – while Nigeria must necessarily fulfill her own part.”