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President of the Senate Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki on Wednesday met
with 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.

The Senate in plenary 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.


Saraki at the meeting which was attended by the Senate Leader, Deputy
Senate Leader, Chairman Senate Committees on Tertiary Education and
TETFUND and other Senators 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.



While saying that the Senate committees after due consideration of
the reports would make recommendations to the Senate on how to clear
the backlogs through appropriation, he called for a comprehensive
review of scholarship policies in the country so as to save the nation
from future embarrassment.

According to Saraki the meeting was called to enable the leadership of
the Senate and heads of relevant agencies put heads together on a
matter of pressing concern, which is the welfare of Nigerian students
on scholarships who are stranded abroad due to the inability to
fulfill the country's responsibilities to these students, and meet
their needs.

"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 said that the outstanding students allowances needed to be settled
urgently to save them from untold hardship.

"This feeling of abandonment is one that we must move quickly to
dissipate, by working urgently to alleviate the difficulties faced by
these students," Saraki stated. "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 with foreign governments

"Under the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) entered into by Nigeria
and several foreign governments, some of the host countries have
responsibility for part of the upkeep of Nigerian students – while
Nigeria must necessarily fulfill her own part," Saraki said. "There is
a need for the MDAs to look at our responsibility to our students in
the different countries, and devise ways of making good on our part of
such agreements."

He added: "We must recognise that these students scattered that are
currently in dire conditions all over the world, represent a sizable
component of the future of Nigeria – her dreams of progress and
development.

"This is another kind of brain drain, The worst part is, this is a
brain drain that benefits no one, not even foreign countries. We are
not even losing the best of these students to foreign lands – we are
in danger of losing them, period. If we don’t rectify this situation –
let me put it bluntly – we would be sacrificing their futures; and
that, is unthinkable."

The Director in charge of Scholarship at the Federal Scholarship Board
(FSB), Fatima Ahmad, had earlier 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.

She stated that for the year 2015 and 2016 that there was an
outstanding scholarship allowance to the tune of N799.8 million, out
of which Ñ444.2 million has been paid leaving balance  of
Ñ355.6million.

In his reaction, the President of the  Senate directed the FSB to
prepare a comprehensive report on the outstanding allowances and
tuition and submit to the education committees to enable the Senate
make provision for its settlement in the budget.

He however enjoined the FSB to imbibe the spirit of transparency and
federal character in the award of all federal scholarships.

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