The National Association of Niger State Students, NANISS, has threatened to embark on a peaceful protest, following the state government’s failure to clear the N85 million bursary backlog.
Addressing a press conference in Minna on Thursday, the national president of the association, Khalid Baba-Abudu, gave the state government a five-day ultimatum within which to offset the backlog.
Mr Baba-Abudu alleged that despite the appropriation of N120 million to the state scholarship board in the 2022 budget, only N35 million was disbursed to students across different tertiary institutions.
The student union added that out of the N150 million approved in 2021, only N20 million was disbursed to the students.
According to Mr Baba-Abudu, the situation has thrown many students into untold hardship in the pursuit of their studies.
“In recent times, it has been confirmed that about N120 million was approved for the year 2022 bursary allocations by the Niger state government, wherein only N35 million was received and disbursed by the scholarship board.
“The claim bears attestation by a motion presented by Hon. Haruna Muhammad, a member representing Bida South at the Niger State House of Assembly.
“Similarly, about N150 million was approved for the year 2021, but only N20 million was disbursed to students.
“We have in recent time received complaints from students of various institutions regarding difficulties in payment of their tuition fees because they’re less privileged.
“Whereas, some selected privileged students traveling overseas were considered and sponsored with millions of naira for their studies abroad,” he said.
Mr Baba-Abudu, who blamed the situation on some corrupt government officials, urged Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello as well as the state House of Assembly to intervene and save the students.
“It is now obvious that this deteriorating attitude of ignoring students’ welfare by the state government is quite alarming and disgusting, despite the overwhelming efforts of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in approving some allocations for bursaries, yet it is mismanaged by a few government officials,” he added.
Mr Baba-Abudu noted that failure to meet their demand on or before December 28 would lead to a solidarity protest by all student organizations in the state.
“We therefore use this medium to call on His Excellency Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and the Niger State House of Assembly to critically revisit this issue and proffer lasting solution within the period of five days,” he stressed.
The president of the union urged the government to release the remaining backlog of N85 million for the years 2021 and 2022 to the Niger State Scholarship Board, while also calling for the continuation of a monthly bursary disbursement.
When contacted, the executive secretary, Niger State Scholarship Board, Usman Mohammed, said the board only disbursed the amount it received from the Ministry of Education.
“What I want to assure is that we understand the plight of the students, but for us at the scholarship board, we only disbursed what we received from the Ministry of Education. And the amount they quoted is not far from the truth,” Mr Mohammed added.
Attempts by our correspondent to get the reaction of the state commissioner for education, Hannatu Salihu, was unsuccessful, as she didn’t pick calls nor respond to an SMS sent to her line.