The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says it has paid $5.9 million to 197 beneficiaries of its foreign scholarship programme, who had been stranded in the United Kingdom.
NDDC director of corporate affairs, Charles Odili, said this in a statement on Monday.
Odili said the delay in payment was as a result of the death of Ibanga Etang, the acting executive director, finance and administration at the time.
Etang was said to have died of COVID-19 complications in May 2020. Odili claimed that under the NDDC’s protocol, only the executive director (finance) and the executive director (projects) “can sign for the release of funds from the Commission’s domiciliary accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria”.
The statement read, “In keeping with our commitment to funding the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Foreign Scholarship Programme, the Interim Management Committee, IMC, has paid $5,910,000 to 197 scholarship beneficiaries of 2019, while payment processes for 94 beneficiaries of 2018 are ongoing,” the statement read.
“Among the 197 beneficiaries are 43 scholars for Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, comprising 12 for 2016 and 31 for 2019. This category got $30,000 each, amounting to $1,290,000. The Masters category has 154 MSC beneficiaries of 2019, who were paid $30,000 each, amounting to $4, 420,000. The payment processes for 94 beneficiaries of 2018; 40 for Ph.D. and 54 for MSC, are ongoing.
“We salute the doggedness of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who got approval from the Presidency for the payments.
“We wish to state again that the delay in the remittance of the fees was caused by the sudden death of Chief Ibanga Etang, the then Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, EDFA.”
The said payment comes weeks after stranded Nigerian scholars protested in London over the non-payment of their tuition fees.
An embarrassed President Muhammadu Buhari had issued a one-week ultimatum to the commission to pay the scholarship beneficiaries.