Rivers Governor’s Overseas Scholarship Scheme a scam, says Wike



RIVERS State is to review the Rivers State Governor’s Overseas Scholarship Scheme initiated by the out gone Rotimi Amaechi-led administration in order to rid it of the state due to perceived scam.

The government has, however, allayed the fears of the over 13, 000 teachers recruited by the same administration, who have been agitated that the incumbent may send them packing.

Governor Nyesom Wike disclosed in Port Harcourt, the state capital that a report presented to him by his transition committee revealed that the past administration sidelined the state scholarship board and appropriated its powers to award scholarships to the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA), which resorted to the use of consultants to source for overseas scholarship for beneficiaries of the scheme. “From the report I have gotten, it is a scam.

Why do you do it through consultants when you have the scholarship board?  From the report I received, if N2b were to be the fee, N900m was paid as fee to the consultant. This is a scam. It is a scam. Any money for scholarship must pass through the scholarship board.

Why did you establish a scholarship board only to abandon a government-established agency to be dealing with consultants? It is not acceptable.

There is no way I can continue with that. That is not a good policy. So anything that has to do with scholarship will move back to the scholarship board.

That is the way it is supposed to be.” he said. Due to paucity of funds, the state could not conduct the annual scholarship test and interview exercise for the award of new scholarships into the programme for the 2014/2015 session. Since last year, the state has been unable to meet its payment obligations to beneficiaries of the state scholarship programme and their universities overseas in a timely manner.

Some of the students have been under threat of expulsion from their schools and residences and, in the worst cases, deportation from their host countries.

Perturbed by the plight of Rivers students overseas, Wike said he recently approved an undisclosed sum of money to the RSSDA to alleviate the suffering of the students.

The governor who said he had observed that the scholarship scheme was highly politicised by the past government to score cheap political mileage, wondered why a state government send people overseas to study when it lacks the resources to sustain them.

“We must do something based on reality. Can we do this? Do we have the resources to do this now? If we don’t have, can we please tell our people the simple truth that this is not feasible now? Everybody will want to give scholarship, but you cannot give scholarship when you do not have the resources. You cannot give scholarship for beneficiaries to go overseas when you know you cannot pay their fees.

We must tell our people the truth. However, “We will continue to pay the fund in order to stop the suffering of our boys and girls overseas.

But the issue of scholarship must go back to where it belongs to and that is the scholarship board. Why should RSSDA be the one running scholarship for us? Why?” Wike questioned. On the issue of the over 13,000 teachers recruited by the Amaechi-led administration, the governor said he does not intend to sack them since they were employed long before the governorship election in April.

He insisted that all employment conducted after the April election were designed to compound the problems of his administration and will not be honoured.

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