By Jaja Jasper
It is with a very heavy heart that I write this, one that has been brought about by the feeling of abandonment. This feeling is not new to me and definitely not to my colleagues. On so many occasions, we have had reasons to feel this way and even worse.
I am a beneficiary of the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) Governor’s Special Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship of the year 2012. Having gone through a rigorous selection process, my colleagues and myself were very happy for the opportunity to study abroad. We proceeded to undergo the compulsory one-year advanced level or foundation program in sixth form colleges across the country and most of us departed the shores of Nigeria in 2013. Ever since, things have gone downhill.
On more than one occasion we have been owed upkeep/ maintenance allowances. Before our departure, we were informed that our allowances would be paid quarterly and in advance. This happened just once and afterwards, we would receive our allowance every month. The condition started to deteriorate and as at the time of writing this, we are being owed our upkeep/maintenance allowances for nine calendar months.
While we thank the Government of Rivers State and the ex-Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi for this brilliant scholarship scheme, we must not fail to also state that this is not the right way to do things. It is wicked and borderline sadistic for anyone to treat his or her fellow human in this manner, particularly people who are indigent. Most of the sponsored students are from less privileged families and what used to be a source of joy has become the cause of untold sorrow and hardship. Parents who can barely survive have been saddled with the responsibility of taking care of their wards in diaspora and the sorry state of our Naira in recent times has made it even worse.
A few days ago, there was a ceremony held in honour of the ex-Governor of Rivers State for the role he played towards the victory of the governing party in the presidential polls. Governor Lalong of Plateau State categorically stated that the ex-Governor shouldered eighty percent (80%) of the (financial) burden of the governing party and that their victory at the polls would have been impossible without his efforts. It is indeed very sad that while our ex-Governor was being benevolent, we were left to starve to death.
We thank Governor Nyesom Wike for his recent efforts with regards to us. It has been extensively publicised that he has ordered the release of five hundred and twelve million naira to offset the debt of our colleagues that have just finished their final year (and graduated). This is a commendable move. We also wish to bring to our Governor’s attention the plight of the rest of us. Our situation requires urgent attention and action. As I write this, some of my colleagues have until Friday to pay up their school fees for past sessions or have their visas withdrawn and face deportation. Others are counting down to facing the same fate. This is a great embarrassment to the Government and people of Rivers State. It is a great embarrassment to our country. We call on our amiable Governor to do what he alone can do at this point and ameliorate our predicament.
We are aware that the residents of the Treasure Base of the nation have already started to enjoy the NEW Vision. Over here in diaspora, we hope to enjoy too.
God bless Rivers State. God bless Nigeria.
Watch the video of a demonstration by the students below:
About Jaja Jasper:
He is a Neuroscientist and an Entrepreneur. Connect with him on Twitter via @jayjay_stones.
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