ABOUT 16 Nigerian medical students studying in St Vincent and Grenadines in The Caribbean under the Rivers State scholarship scheme have resorted to stealing and begging to survive because they are no longer being paid their allowances and bursaries.
Since the commencement of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme in 2008, numerous students from the region have been sent on scholarships abroad. More than any other state in Nigeria’ Rivers has stepped up the training of its citizens, with thousands of students sent all around the world on scholarships to get educated.
Of late, however, the economic downturn in Nigeria has had a debilitating effect on the programme as the Rivers State government is unable to afford the school fees of many of the students. Many of them have had to return home as a result, while those still abroad have had to fend for themselves in order to survive.
Apparently, the students in St Vincent and Grenadines have not been paid their allowances and tuition fees for close to two years. One final year student said that two medical students who are billed to graduate with the other 14 this October, went into stealing when it was apparent they didn’t know where their next meal will come from.
Some of the students confirmed that they had not eaten for three days, let alone pay school fees, so had to result to begging for alms They added that their living conditions degenerated to a level where they beg for alms in churches to survive, as their landlords eject them from their apartments due to non-payment of rent, compelling many of them to live in the streets.
Also, their school authorities have stopped them from completing the remaining clinical rotations before graduation. Presently, the students who are sending save-our-soul messages to both the Rivers State and the federal government, disclosed that if the development is not checked, it will further worsen Nigeria’s already bartered image abroad.
All the 16 medical students were the candidates the Rivers State government awarded scholarships in 2013 under the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency. They have accused the Rivers State government of abandoning them to suffer for close to two years in a strange land without any explanation.