Sokoto state government has said that it is withdrawing 39 students who are currently being sponsored by the government in various schools in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, due to shortage of resources.
“The transfer/relocation of the students was necessitated by the need to conserve funds and apply same to more critical areas in the education sector,” the state Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said on Friday in Sokoto when he received the report of the committee instituted to advise government on the issue.
Tambuwal said that admissions have been secured for all the students in Nigerian schools, while arrangements have been made to ensure that none of them misses a grade level upon their return home.
“We explained to the parents and guardians of the students that as at today, Sokoto state government spends over 500 million Naira to maintain 17,000 of its citizens on scholarship in various schools in Nigeria. So having to pay N400 million for 38 students in Dubai was weighing heavily on the scarce resources of the state,” he said.
While the move is going to deal a crushing blow to the students, things could even worsen if the experiences of Rivers state scholars are anything to go by. Towards the end of the Rotimi Amaechi administration as governor of Rivers, the government began to consistently default on sending funds for feeding, accommodation and tuition of the students abroad. Amaechi made several promises to the families of the students but failed to keep them, handing over the problem to his successor, Nyesom Wike.
When Wike took over, he promised to continue the program but said no new scholarship would be awarded. But even he did not keep his words. Late last year, he asked the students (apart from those in final year) to return home and promised that they would be offered admission in Nigerian universities to continue the scholarship. Investigations by The ScoopNG revealed that most of those students have been abandoned to their fates with no admission offered to them and the scholarship discontinued.
The Wike government even failed to keep its promise to the final year students who were asked to finish their programmes abroad. As a result most of them were unable to complete their education or get their certificates. A recent memo from the government asked them to also return home but said the government would be unable to afford their flight tickets.
Some of the students who spoke to the ScoopNG said they had no funds to even afford the fares back and were at risk of getting into trouble with the UK Immigration authorities if they remained beyond the expiration of their student visas.