Presidency reacts to BEA scholars’ plight

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Presidential adviser on Foreign Relations and Diaspora matters, Abike Dabiri has on Sunday reacted to the recent protest by beneficiaries of the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) scholarship who are being owed 20 months in arrears.

Ms Dabiri was reacting via her twitter handle where she expressed concerns about the recurring incident while urging the National Assembly and the Federal Scholarships Board (FSB) to look into it.

She tweeted thus: “This matter, which has been a recurring issue for years, needs to be tacked once and for all by NASS and the Scholarship board. We will be engaging them continuously on this. Immediate steps must be taken while provision must be made in 2019 budget to ensure payment.”

When a twitter user asked if students would have to wait till the 2019 budget was passed before the students get their stipends, Dabiri said that she expected the scholarship board to verify that.

An earlier report on Thursday quoted the President of the Association of Nigerian Scholarship Students in Russia, Lawal Mustapha as saying that the government’s inability to pay them for 20 months had made life difficult for many of his colleagues.

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EduCeleb.com reports that Nigeria currently maintains BEA agreements with twelve countries. As a result, government data show that 753 Nigerians are currently studying under the programme in Russia, Algeria, China, Hungary, Morocco, Egypt, Cuba, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, Tunisia and Serbia.

Based on the BEA arrangement, Nigeria and the partnering countries were to share the cost of the scholarship.

While the countries fund the tuition, Nigeria was suppose to pay $500 monthly stipends to each student to cater for their accommodation and other living expenses.

Mr Mustapha said that the nonpayment of the arrears had left the students threatened with eviction notices and deportation.

Meanwhile, the Director of the FSB, Asta Ndajiwo has said that efforts were ongoing to pay the outstanding arrears as the board had forwarded memos to the Central Bank of Nigeria to start payment of both 2017 and 2018 arrears.

“The arrears will be paid to the scholars’ bank accounts,” she promised.

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