The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it will pay the fees and stipends of scholars stranded abroad by the end of this week.
Students of Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta states who are sponsored with scholarships to study in foreign universities have held protests in the past days over the failure of the NDDC to pay their fees spanning months and years.
President Muhammadu Buhari this week ordered the commission to pay the students by the end of the week.
NDDC spokesperson, Charles Odili, said in a statement on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 the president’s intervention came on the back of protests at the Nigerian High Commission in London this week.
He said the delay in the remittance of the fees was caused by the sudden death of the NDDC’s acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Ibanga Etang, in May.
“Under the Commission’s finance protocol, only the Executive Director (Finance) and the Executive Director (Projects) can sign for the release of funds from the Commission’s domiciliary accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
“With the death of Chief Etang, the remittance has to await the appointment of a new EDFA,” he said.
He said the scholars will be paid immediately after Etang’s replacement is appointed this week.
The leadership of the NDDC has been embroiled in allegations of financial misappropriation running into billions of naira.
A Senate Committee report recently alleged that top officials of the commission paid themselves scholarship grants at a time hundreds of deserving scholarship beneficiaries had not been paid for years and were stranded in different countries.