The Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is yet to obey President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to immediately pay of all fees owed to the commission’s scholarship students schooling abroad.
Recall that the series of protests by the students over their abandonment by the NDDC forced Buhari to give an express order to the Prof. Keme Pondei-led IMC to settle all outstanding financial obligations of the students to mitigate their sufferings overseas.
The order was conveyed to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and was confirmed by the NDDC Corporate Affairs Director, Charles Odili, in a statement he signed on August 4.
Odili had promised that in obedience to the presidential directive, the commission would pay the students’ entitlements before the end of last week.
But investigations revealed that the IMC failed to honour Buhari’s directive fuelling criticism of the Pondei’s committee amidst alleged financial profligacy against the NDDC.
Some of the affected students in the official Twitter handle of the NDDC Scholars 2019 lambasted the NDDC management for flouting presidential directives.
“Do we have to pray for God to rain down his judgement on you guys before you do the needful. It is a pity you can’t obey the order of a whole President”, one of the scholars said.
The students further debunked a statement by the Citizens Quest led by Christie Ndukwe that the NDDC could not pay because the money was inflated and there was a need to remove ghost names from the list.
The students in their open letter faulted the claims saying the group failed to do due diligence on current and outstanding fees and allowances owed previous students under the scheme.
They said: “For clarity, the scholarship sum is $30,000 which covers tuition and maintenance fees. Generally, the number of scholars each year revolves around 200. There are also outstanding PHD students from previous years, 2016 to 2018.
“A simple arithmetic will show that the 2019 scholarship sum itself will amount to figures around $6million and adding outstanding PhD scholars from previous years will definitely push the figures higher in a situation where all 2019 scholars had utilized their scholarship. We wonder where the Citizens Quest got their $1.9million from”.
The students lamented that the process of vetting the list had been ongoing for almost one year adding that besides the scholarship awards; each school verified the award letters from the NDDC before accepting the students.
“Each embassy and high commission also verifies the scholarship letters and details before granting study visas. On the resumption in schools, scholars were mandated by the NDDC to upload tuition invoices and their new foreign bank accounts, foreign house address, foreign telephone numbers on a portal managed by the NDDC. Our schools always contact the NDDC requesting for our funds”.
Reacting on the development, the Ijaw Forward Movement (IFM) wondered why the IMC appointed by the President would turn around to treat presidential orders with kid gloves.
The National Coordinator, IFM, Alfred Kemepado, said in sane countries, disobedience to presidential order is the highest level of insubordination and attracts immediate punishment.
Kemepado said it was unbelievable that the IMC members were quiet despite their flagrant disregard to Buhari’s orders.
“The office of the President must be respected especially by his appointees. We will be doomed if the country degenerates to the level where the words of Mr. President are no longer respected. I call on the IMC of NDDC to immediately carry out the order of the President,” he said.
Kemepado wondered why scholarship students sponsored by the NDDC, an agency created to develop the Niger Delta region, would be abandoned for over one year describing the condition of the students as embarrassing.