The President of Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, has drawn the attention of the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians to the plight of over 6,000 Niger Delta students on scholarships in some foreign universities.
He said the authorities of the foreign universities had started delisting the students, majority of whom were Ijaws, due to the alleged Federal Government’s failure to pay the students’ fees.
The IYC president, who spoke at a news conference earlier today in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari and other well-meaning Nigerians to wade into the matter.
He said the students’ plight was made worse by the vacuum in the Presidential Amnesty Programme because of the absence of an administrator for the programme.
Mr. Eradiri said the amnesty programme had of recent been plagued with a lot of bureaucratic bottlenecks due to the absence of an administrator.
He, therefore, urged President Buhari to appoint an administrator for the programme or do whatever he could with “the executive power he wields to ensure that somebody begins to take responsibility in that office”.
The Ijaw youth leader said he had been under intense pressure in trying to maintain the peace in the region because stipends to ex-agitators had also not been paid for the last two months.
Eradiri said he and other Ijaw leaders had been appealing for calm among the ex-agitators and cautioning them not to take to the streets or go back to the creeks.
He stressed that they had been appealing to them to give President Buhari an opportunity to run government.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on the Niger Delta leaders, well-meaning Nigerians and President Muhammadu Buhari to the fact that the cause of the vacuum in the presidential amnesty programme is as a result of the change in leadership.
“It has begun to tell on the lives of our young ones that are undergoing university training as a result of the amnesty programme in various countries – America, United Kingdom, London, South Africa and other African countries where we have young Nigerians.
“These young Nigerians who are undergoing education and training scattered round the world, because of the bureaucratic nature of the programme, the funding used to be month by month, most of the upkeep of the students is usually on a monthly basis.
“But for two months now, the students have not been paid; the financial obligations to the institutions have not been met and so we heard the shocking news that some of the institutions have started delisting some of the students studying there.
“As for the UK, we know that rents are paid monthly and when the stipends are paid, these students also pay their rent. As I speak to you, a lot of them now are being thrown out of their accommodation; they are all on the streets”.
He said the matter was getting to a tipping point where they could no longer hold them (youths) back because “we have been doing that with just the word of mouth and the goodwill we enjoy as leaders. But when government fails to do their own part, then very unfortunately, we will not be able to maintain the peace as it was in the last few months”.