From Fred Itua, Abuja
Senate has urged the Federal Government to immediately pay outstanding two-year scholarship to Nigerians schooling in Russia.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who recently returned from Russia, said Nigerian students had resorted to crime and other forms of illegality since they were no longer in school.
To this end, the Senate has initiated action on non-payment of the scholarships of Nigerian students studying in Russia.
In a motion raised by the Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye, yesterday, Senate raised the alarm over the state of Nigerian scholars abroad and directed that all concerned agencies of the federal government to meet with the Senate President; to rectify the situation immediately.
Senate also directed that the Presidential Amnesty Programme to make payments to Nigerian students in Russia, those who have not received their payments in over four years.
Saraki said:“This situation is very pathetic and it is also very serious and we must stand firm behind our students.
“I had the opportunity to meet with my counterpart from Russia, where they categorically told us that they are able to provide more scholarships for Nigerian students.
“Unfortunately, some that are given scholarships have not been paid in two years. Because, of this, some are now roaming the streets doing other illegal activities.
“The minimum figure is about $500 per student; it is not acceptable.
“We must address this. I promise you, next week, we will meet with the concerned ministries, departments and agencies and find a way to put this issue to an end for our students.”
Adeyeye, in his earlier submission, said: “Just last week, a very strong delegation from this Senate was in Russia and, as part of our visit there, we had the privilege to meet with Nigerians living there, good proportion of whom are Nigerian scholars; students who got scholarship, either the presidential scholarship or the PTDF scholarship.
“The story that these students told us were most pitiable. They regaled us with endless stories of suffering because their stipends and tuitions have not been paid.
“We know very well that Russia is a very cold country. And, in the winter months especially, its almost like a taste of reverse hell. Just last night, I got a very lengthy e-mail from Nigerian scholars in the United Kingdom, complaining, just like those students who spoke in Russia.
“The stipends on which these students will live for food, transportation, housing have not been paid for many months…”
Senator Albert Bassey Akpan, in his contribution, said: “There is a Nigerian in Russia that when the Niger Delta Amnesty students locked up the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow, he intervened and salvaged the country from that embarrassment in 2013. As I speak, that Nigerian is yet to be refunded…to the tune of N217 million.”