OPEN LETTER TO THE NDDC MANAGING DIRECTOR
On behalf of the 2016 NDDC Scholars, we write to express our displeasure, disappointment and pathetic predicament at the hands of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
On the 4th of October 2016 at the Pre-Departure Briefing of the successful 2016 NDDC Scholars at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, we were presented with an award letter which clearly provides for the payment of our Scholarship Fund. The award letter stipulates in Paragraph 2, Clause N that;
“Your tuition fee shall be disbursed directly to your University from your scholarship fund, while the balance, if any will be paid into your account for your accommodation and upkeep.”
Furthermore in accordance with the tradition of NDDC we were promised mobilisation fee to ameliorate the cost of our travel expenses, to wit; air ticket and visa application fees.
While we were assured of the payment of the said Scholarship Fund and Mobilisation Fee almost immediately by the former managing director, 8 months after, not even a dime has been paid to the 168 awardees of the 2016 Scholarship scheme. We are indeed very weary of the long wait and dejected by the embarrassment this has caused us in our various universities abroad. The said scholarship funds were provided for in the 2016 budget, however, 5 months into 2017 we still have not been paid. One can only imagine that the delay is deliberate to enrich the pockets of those causing the needless delays.
On the 5th of December, 2016, we paid a visit to the commission seeking to get an update on the delay of our funds. We were told that the funds were being processed and promised that it shall be disbursed soonest. Till date, we are still desperately waiting for the payment.
On the 20th of April 2017, due to the massive outcry and suicide attempts by some of the 2016 scholars, the commission reluctantly paid 32 scholars out of the 200 awardees, leaving the remaining 168 to wallow in want, dejection and despair. Since the commencement of our studies abroad, the quality of our lives have substantially declined due to the failure and reckless negligence of the commission to pay our upkeep funds. It beats our imagination how a country, through NDDC, can abandon its nationals in a foreign land for 8 months with impunity and immeasurable disdain, without providing any means of survival for them as provided for in our scholarship award letters.
Sadly, some of our colleagues were denied admission because of the non-reliance of the NDDC award letters by their institutions, because the commission is notorious abroad for its reckless and unnecessary delay in honouring its financial obligations to the institutions and scholars alike. Majority of the awardees are still in Nigeria because they could not afford the travel expense because NDDC has neglected to fund the travel expense as promised.
In light of the aforestated, we humbly request a detailed update on the true situation of things and prompt payment of the Scholarship and Mobilization funds. Sadly, we are almost at the verge of losing academic focus because of lack of funds. Our daily sad but inevitable distractions in school includes but are not limited to: hunger and starvation, constant embarrassment from the University authorities who threaten to unregister our studentship and report us to immigration service for non-payment of fees, embarrassment from our landlord’s with the threat of eviction and lack of funds to buy basic clothing.
On this basis we do appeal to the office of the Ag. President, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, the senior special assistant to the President on Foreign matters and diaspora, the Governors of the Niger Delta States and the Managing Director of NDDC for a quick intervention on this issue.
Nothwithstanding all the challenges we face, we are proud to be associated with NDDC and are appealing that the aforementioned issues be speedily addressed, as our academic performance depends to a large extent on a balanced psychological state.