About 117 National Youth Service Corps members, who received the Presidential Scholarship Award in 2015 to pursue postgraduate degrees, have yet to commence their respective programmes due to failure on the part of the Federal Government to release funds.
Our correspondent learnt that the postgraduate scholarship, given under the National Honours Award, was offered to the selected corps members on the basis of community development services.
The aggrieved awardees, acting under the aegis of the National Association of President’s NYSC Honours Awardees, said on Monday in Abuja at a briefing that President Muhammadu Buhari should direct the Federal Scholarship Board and the National Universities Commission, as well as other agencies involved, to release the funds for their scholarship.
Our correspondent gathered that the affected ex-corps members comprised 90 awardees who had not commenced their programmes, while 11 Ph.D. awardees are presently stranded in the United States and the United Kingdom after the government allegedly stopped their funding in 2015.
Among the 117 were also 16 awardees whose funds were reportedly released from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund to the National Universities Commission to pay their tuition for four years, but the commission allegedly didn’t release the money.
Our correspondent learnt that the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, in June 2016, wrote to the President on the scholarships requesting for funding and an approval was given.
A copy of the letter HME/FME/40/X/84, dated June 21, 2016, which was obtained by our correspondent, was titled ‘Re: Scholarship for ex-corps members and recipients of presidential honours; and presidential scholarship for innovation and development’.
The letter shows the approval of the President that the Federal Scholarship Board must take charge of the matter and funds be released by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, the Nigeria Ports Authority and the Petroleum Development Trust Fund.
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, the association President, Suzanne Jegede, said that since the approval was given in June 2016, the awardees had not heard from the Federal Scholarships Board.
Jegede said, “In line with the Federal Government’s policy of rewarding hard work, excellence and leadership skills for outstanding corps members, the government, in 2010, 2011 awarded a postgraduate scholarship. This scholarship is to study for Masters and Ph.D in any university in the world.
“Hence, 164 corps members were awarded, having been selected from over 600,000 corps members. The Petroleum Development Trust Fund selected 74 awardees, who are currently studying in various universities overseas, but 90 awardees have been deliberately abandoned by the supposed government agencies tasked to sponsor them.
“Following series of our agitations, President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2016 ordered that the Nigeria Ports Authority, the Petroleum Development Trust Fund, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Federal Scholarship Board should create funding for the 90 awardees with immediate effect. However, since June 2016, the President’s directive has been abandoned by the agencies. The affected awardees have lost much money in securing and losing admission overseas.”
“We urge the present administration to effect the following; one, that letters of scholarship be released to the 90 awardees yet to be sponsored. Two, the President may wish to issue another order to the various agencies to act on his earlier directive given since June 2016.”
“We call on the President to direct the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission to pay all the outstanding fees of our stranded colleagues abroad,” they added.