Ugo Aliogo and Chidinma Okonkwo
The Association of Scholarship Students in Russia (ANSSIR) has appealed to the Federal Scholarship Board (FSB) to pay up the monthly stipends owned Nigeria students studying in Russia, saying that the 10 months allowance has been delayed for long.
The President of the association, Jenny Onyemachi, who made the appeal in a telephone conversation with THISDAY, said since October 2015, the students have been experiencing incessant delays in the payment of their stipends, “they only paid part of last year till October; therefore from November 2015 to August 2016, we have not received any payment.”
Onyemachi stated that when she met with members of the FSB, it was discovered that there was no money available, adding that the condition of the students in Russia is unpleasant, “I wrote a letter to the minister of education and submitted to the personal assistant, but nothing meaningful has been done.”
She regretted that some Nigerian students borrow from students from other countries in order to survive, stressing that some cannot afford to feed three times daily and manage whatever food that is given to them by others.
“This is the toughest time for us. We don’t have direct access to the scholarship board in Russia, besides they don’t fund our stipends. The money comes from the scholarship board in Nigeria; the Russian government pays the tuition fees, while Nigerian government pays for upkeep of the students.
“Students who graduated are yet to get their tickets back home. These students may be deported if nothing is done positively by the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow to address the issue.”
The Vice-President, Faith Tosin Olapade, said the students have sent videos and articles on the issue to the federal government and the Embassy in Moscow, adding that yearly they fight for their stipends. “Normally, we get it when the budget process is almost complete.”
Olapade lamented that there are several challenges with receiving money from Nigerian banks, adding that only few people with access get to receive the money with the normal exchange rates, “most times the embassy officials say to us that they can’t help.”