Some 16 band members, who recieved the National Youth Account Band (NYSC) Presidential Honours Merit Accolade are blind on to accoutrement of achievement that the Federal Government will abide allotment their PhD programmes in assorted universities in the United Kingdom (UK). They are blaming the Natio Universities Commission (NUC) for their dilemma. About NUC denies accusation belletrist KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE.
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• NUC: we are not to blame; no funds with us
In 2010, above President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, added a dank allurement to the National Youth Account Band (NYSC) Presidential Honours Merit Accolade for band associates who acclaimed themselves in the advance of their account year. It was a scholarship to abstraction for Masters and PhD in any university in the apple as continued as they got acceptance aural two years of the offer. That year, there were 51 of such recipients.
That Federal Government action was an icing on the block for band members, because that they had already anchored automated application in the government civilian account for acceptable the award.
Jonathan said aback again that the scholarship was to animate adolescent graduates to assignment hard.
The Tertiary Education Trust Armamentarium (TETFund) and the Petroluem Development Training Armamentarium (PTDF) were to accommodate funds for the programme with the National Universities Commission (NUC) acting as the allowance house.
While TETFund was in allegation of advisers in medicine, sciences and added fields, the PTDF was in allegation of advisers in the engineering field. The scholarship was to awning charge (amount assorted according to programme/institution), ysis abutment (10,000 British Pounds Sterling), active costs (820 pounds monthly) – with added allowances for passages, balmy clothing, and laptop.
The above President fabricated it a anniversary affair, announcement the aforementioned accolade for 52 beneficiaries in 2011, and accumulated awards for 2012, 2013 and 2014 batches (about 164 in all) in March 2015 afore he larboard appointment two months later.
However, the action has acquired affliction for abounding beneficiaries, decidedly those beneath TETFund as the allotment chock-full while abounding were still ability their programmes. They abhorrence they ability be affected to stop the programmes and abandoned as their institutions accept already fabricated again demands for payment.
The aboriginal set of beneficiaries larboard Nigeria for assorted universities, abnormally in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2012. On commutual their Master’s programme, some went advanced to accompany their PhD.
Sixteen of them got approval from the NUC to activate their PhD programme with abounding sponsorship. Taiwo Shittu, a alum of Agriculture from the University Ilorin (UNILORIN), Gini Joshua, a medical doctor accomplished at the University of Jos (UNIJOS), Oluwabamidele Kogbe, a alum of Accessible Administering from The Polytechnic, Ibadan, were amid the 16 recipients who completed their Master’s programme in 2013 and got approval from the NUC to activate their PhD programme in 2014.
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They are anon in their third or final year of study. In buzz and babble interviews with The Nation they said that their third and fourth year charge fees had not been paid. While some accustomed allowances for active costs aftermost year, others did not get any money from TETFund through NUC.
Kogbe, who is ability his PhD in Politics and International Relations at the University of Dundee, said he was aftermost paid in 2016.
“NUC paid the charge fees and allowances for my aboriginal year in 2015 and my additional year in 2016 – that was the aftermost acquittal I accustomed from NUC. Presently, the NUC has not paid my charge fee for the third year and the actual allowances for the third and fourth year. What afraid me ancient aftermost year was that NUC paid some of my colleagues their third year allowances admitting that we all had the aforementioned approval and funds deposited with the NUC.”
Shittu, ability his PhD in Molecular Pathology and Genetics at the University of Bedfordshire, UK, was one of the ‘lucky ones’ who got paid active costs aftermost year. He said it did not appear afterwards several barren mails to the NUC.
“Our active costs alter depending on the barter rate. It is amid £11,000 and £14,000 anniversary and we accept to ache and accelerate abounding emails afore NUC pays admitting accepting our armamentarium with them. NUC has paid my active costs for three years. It charcoal for the fourth year. Some of my colleagues accept alone been paid for two years,” he said.
Gini, who is at the University of Liverpool researching “Clinical trials, pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenetics biologic interactions and assurance of antiretroviral drugs in HIV treatment”, has not additionally accustomed allotment aback 2016. He said the bearings got bad afterwards Jonathan larboard office.
“We did not accept the best ysis during Jonathan, but at atomic our charge was paid and occasionally addition responded to calls. But payments chock-full afterwards Jonathan left,” he said.
Gini said his university has accustomed him until April to pay up or be apparent the way out. He is at accident as to what to do.
The medical doctor additionally said he never got the abounding bulk declared as active costs and all efforts to get account for it was bootless as his mails were never replied.
“A breakdown of active costs is £820 per ages – the absolute of £9,840 per annum. Depending on the barter bulk and anniversary balmy accouterment allowance, it was declared to be about £10,000 to £11,000 per annum. But I accept never been paid the complete amount. I was paid at the bulk of 600 per ages about £7,200 additional allowances for the aboriginal year was £8,500 and £8,700 in the additional year. All complaints were never replied.”
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Surviving afterwards funds
It has not been accessible for the advisers to survive afterwards allotment from the Federal Government. They told The Nation they accept had to do all sorts to survive.
Christabel Ihedike, who is advancing her PhD at the University of Sunderland, said she has had some advice from ancestors to awning active expenses. But charge charcoal unpaid.
“2016 was the aftermost time I was paid. My ancient sister in USA and my parents accept been acceptance my account all this while but the academy fees has not been paid. Academy and Academy Acclaim ascendancy accept beatific mail and balance to me on altered occasions aback my sponsor does not acknowledge to their mails. I accept accounting severally to the New Executive Secretary but no response. I am about to alpha my final year not alive what the academy will do this time because my aftermost year fees has not been paid,” she said.
With a Tier 4 Visa, Gini said he cannot assignment added than 20 hours in a week, which is bereft to accession funds. He said he has had to booty abject jobs and depend on his wife to survive.
“Even if I capital to work, my PhD is so ambitious I cannot do abundant outsid academics. I additionally am not medically accountant accordingly cannot practice.
“(Surviving) has been a miracle. I accord acclaim to my wife. She does affliction job at night to booty affliction of the bills. I awash my car and added backdrop to cope. The university at a point gave me a accident assistance. My administrator additionally assists occasionally by giving me some centralized charwoman and aliment to advice me cope. But everybody is accepting annoyed now; it is acceptable difficult to get help. There are times aback I accept been abandoned but miraculously advice came from these mentioned sources,” he said.
Shittu said of his experience: “I was about abandoned aftermost year about August due to defalcation of my fees to the university. I had to borrow money to pay the university to recapitulate my studentship.”
Akin Oyawale, who is accomplishing a PhD in Politics at the University of East Anglia, said he has had to borrow as well.
“I assignment part-time and survive on loans from ancestors and friends. As a PhD researcher, I additionally advise at the university,” he said.
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Scholars accusation NUC
Many of the advisers accused NUC of abnegation to pay their fees admitting the funds actuality relesased by TETFund. Kogbe, who declared the advisers as “victims of authoritative injustice”, said: “TETFund has paid my funds to NUC. I was in Nigeria with Shittu in November. We were at NUC. They never denied the control of my PhD funds. TETFund alone chock-full advantageous for others who are not allotment of the already accustomed account of scholars.”
Shittu additionally claimed same, saying: “The armamentarium for our four-year programme was accustomed and appear to NUC by TETFund (we accept evidence). The accomplished President allowable TETFund to sponsor our programmes and to be honest, they accept been accomplishing able-bodied through the NUC. My angle is that our money is with the NUC. The present ES ability not apperceive ‘much’ about our case. There are some admiral that are complex from the access -e.g. the present administrator of the ES office, Mr Chris Maiyaki; Administrator of Finance, Mr Sam Onazi.”
Gini said admitting the NUC allegedly got all the funds from TETFund, the advisers were told they could not get all the money at already as the NUC had to adviser their progress.
He said: “I bethink we alike asked them (NUC) a question, why not aloof accord us the absolute money and let us go instead of advancing aback and they said no, they bare to administer our advance so they would pay as the balance comes.
“The aboriginal two years I beatific them my anniversary advance report, cipher anytime responded. I beatific belletrist because they were not advantageous the complete money. They paid allowance to me for the aboriginal two years; they paid academy fees to the school. My botheration was they were not advantageous me my complete allowance.
“As I am in the fourth year, cipher has anytime visited me to see whether I am in academy or not.
“In 2016, they beatific us a letter afterwards one year of not talking to us. They said for the 16 accustomed they would abide paying. I beatific endless letters, cipher every responded. They try to ambit this our case beneath the carpeting as if they never accustomed the money.”
NUC, others’ reactions
When contacted by email, the NUC Director, Corporate Communications, Ibrahim Usman Yakasai, said the Executive Secretary, Prof Adamu Rasheed, was on leave. He about said the scholarship was now beneath the ambit of the Federal Scholarship Board.
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He wrote in the mail: “Mail and adapter received. Will backslide aback afterwards New Year as the ES is on accustomed leave. However, alike he if sees it I can affirm to you that NUC did not accept any money and bootless to address as appropriate. I can additionally acquaint you that the said scholarship has been confused to Federal Scholarship Board. You may ambition to acquaintance them additionally to authorize the truth.”
The Accessible Relations Administrator of the Federal Scholarship Board, Hajiya Fatima Jiddum, accepted that the scholarship had been confused to the lath – but afterwards funding. She told The Nation it would be adjourned beneath the 2018 budget.
“The scholarship was confused to us in July 2017 but came with no funding. Some of the advisers gluttonous allotment do not alike accept scholarship accolade belletrist from the Federal Government. For those that have, we accept included them beneath the 2018 budget. Already the account is passed, we will be able to pay them. We are in blow with them and accept told them so,” she said on phone.
However, the advisers said they had not been contacted by the Federal Scholarship Board.
Shittu, their baton said: “Federal Scholarship Lath (FSB) has never announced with us clearly – no letter, no email.”
Shittu additionally insisted the funds was with the NUC.
“NUC may accept transferred our book but they are still with our money. NUC needs to be questioned. Larboard to us, we don’t accept annihilation whatsoever with FSB. We are still with NUC because there is no official advice from NUC or FSB to us apropos us. We are not politicians so they cannot be application us to comedy games,” he said.
Efforts fabricated to get Hajiya Jiddum to affirm that the names of the 16 advisers are amid those to account from the 2018 account accepted abbortive as she did not acknowledge to calls, texts and emails beatific to her.
Responding to claims that NUC bootless to alteration the allotment to FSB, Yakasai told The Nation on phone: “Like I said in my mail, we did not accept any money that we did not remit. Aback we handed over to Scholarship Board, did they say see any money that we bootless to duke over? The handover was done appropriately and they charge accept asked questions,” he said.
Former Executive Secretary, Prof Julius Okojie, beneath whose administering the programme started, banned to animadversion on the matter.
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“Please go to the NUC. I accept larboard the NUC for about two years now. But the others are still there. You can ask them about the scholarship,” he said.
However, a antecedent at NUC, who did not appetite to be called because of non-authorization to speak, said the allotment for the programme was chock-full by TETFund. The antecedent said it was transferred to FSB aback NUC no best acknowledge to invoices from the adopted universities.
Efforts to apprehend from TETFund accepted bootless as calls, emails and argument letters beatific to the Accessible Relations administrator were not returned.
State of the
After the antecedent 16 scholars, consecutive NYSC advisers who did not get abounding approval from the NUC afore starting their PhD programme, were affected to arrest the programme as they were not funded. Some of them were abandoned to Nigeria.
In August 2016, the NUC wrote all the advisers (letter appear on this page), adage TETFund attributed the adjournment in the absolution of funds to “the absence of a Governing Lath which has the sole responsibiity for acknowledging any banking allocation of this nature.”
The NUC warned the advisers away afterwards approval they did so at their own risk.
Those band associates who won in 2014 and 2015 accept not been mobilized to do their masters programme alfresco Nigeria.
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The NYSC scholarship is not the alone programme administered by the NUC that has been suspended. The Nation aggregate that the Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID) has additionally been abeyant because of abridgement of allotment by TETFund.
The carefully merit-based scholarship was accomplished to alternation the best of Nigerian graduates from both accessible and clandestine universities for their masters and PhD in the top 25 institutions of the world. A absolute of 100 advisers with the best array afterwards a ysis conducted by NUC were called for the programme. Afterwards the aboriginal two sets went in 2013 and 2013, consecutive sets accept not been mobilized.
A antecedent said the abeyance of PRESSID happened because some law makers claimed the advisers were alone from some genitalia of the country while added genitalia were larboard out.
“They chock-full it because some genitalia of the country did not do able-bodied in the tests and so were not chosen,” the antecedent said.
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