Some Nigerian students of Rivers State origin studying in the UK have cried out over non payment of their fees by the state government.
The students took their frustration to the streets on Monday in London deriding the Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike.
The students who have been on the Rivers government scholarship are said to be stranded abroad because of the refusal of the state government to fund the scholarship.
A handful of the protesters, with placards, gathered in front of the Chatham House, London, where Wike was delivering a speech on his administration’s performance in Rivers State, chanting anti-Wike songs.
The state scholarship scheme, initiated by the previous administration of Rotimi Amaechi, had students from Rivers State doing their post-graduate studies in different fields – including medicine – at various universities in Europe, America, and the Caribbean.
Citing lack of funds as a problem, Wike discontinued the scheme when he assumed office as governor in 2015. He asked all the students, except those who were in their final year, to return home and continue their studies in Nigeria.
The final year students, said to be 159 in number, have gone through hardship, with some of them reportedly doing menial jobs to survive, because they weren’t getting money for their tuition and allowances since 2014, despite several promises by the state government.
Some of the students have completed their studies through personal struggles, but their certificates are said to be withheld because of their debts to the schools. Most of them have also been thrown out of residential accommodation for failing to pay their rents.
Governor Wike, during his speech at the Chatham House, accused his predecessor, Amaechi, of not doing enough to bring development to the state.
The Governor explained to his audience what he was doing to lift education in the state.
“We increased public spending on education from 4.2 per cent to about 10 per cent on the average and deployed substantial resources for the renovation and equipping of over 180 basic education and secondary schools across the state to improve the quality of education at that level.
“We have constructed, upgraded and rehabilitated several faculty buildings, lecture halls, workshops, staff offices as well as student hostels in all the tertiary institutions.
“These interventions have expanded access, improved quality and placed our tertiary institutions on the path to producing the skillful and innovative graduates that we need to drive the development of the State and the nation,” Wike said.