The Bayelsa State Government has expressed shock and disbelief over reports widely circulated in different media outlets on the purported neglect of its students currently on scholarship at the Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, United States.
The reports by parents of the twenty one affected students claimed that the state government has refused to meet up with its obligation of paying their fees, a development that is now threatening their graduation from the prestigious institution.
But in its reaction, the State Government in a statement described as not only false the claims by the parents but malicious and a calculated attempt to blackmail and embarrass the Governor Dickson’s led restoration government.
The government in a statement by the State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Jonathan Obuebite, explained that at no time were the students abandoned as the state government has been in constant touch with the university.
It noted that while other states have withdrawn their students due to financial constraints, the government of Bayelsa State is consistently funding scholarship programmes across various universities in Europe and America of which Lincoln University students are part of.
The statement added that if not for the current recession the delay would not have come up and stressed that there is no way it can shy away now when the students have less than a month to complete their programmes.
” We view the claims and the manner it was widely publicized as wicked and malicious. This is a clear case of blackmail by the parents association, a campaign of calumny and a means to tarnish the image of the government and ridicule all its lauable achievements in the education sector”.
The statement added that the governor has already approved and authorized the release of the sum of two hundred million naira (#200, 000, 000.00) only to be paid to the institution.
The government equally frowned at the claim by some of the parents to pay the fees for their children, a clear ploy by them to whip up unnecessary sentiment, noting that if they had the money all along to send their children abroad how come they did not do so up until the government had taking the initiative to do so.
Following this action, the state government have formally decided to stop forthwith all foreign scholarships at undergraduate level as it is the case in nearly all the states in the country.
The government while justifying the action said it is done to send a message since its efforts is not appreciated by beneficiaries of the programme especially the parents.
However it again assured of its commitment to continue to build a strong and virile educational sector that will mold future leaders of the state in the right manner.