We Prayed and Strove for Scholarships, Not Hardship, By Adzege Faeren

My name is Adzege Faeren and I am a Nigerian scholar currently studying in Russia under the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) scholarship scheme.

Three years ago, I was sent to Russia to study Medicine with many mouthwatering promises accompanying it. One of them was the promise of monthly stipends from the Nigerian government. However, this promise has never been a reality for me and several others. I am most certain that many people reading this are already familiar with this yearly outcry from scholarship students abroad, but, we will still cry anyway.

For the past ten months, we have not received any support from the Federal Government of Nigeria in the form of stipends. What’s even more disheartening is the fact that the Russian government ALWAYS fulfils its part of the bilateral agreement (paying our tuition), yet our fatherland forgets about us totally.

The inability of the Nigerian government to pay our stipends in time has left us borrowing and owing. With a new session in view, scholarship students are left with the option of getting money through various illegal means or risk being thrown out of our hostels and subsequently getting deported. Also, we need to renew our health insurances, extend our visas and buy warm clothes in preparation for winter. Unfortunately, we can’t get these done on credit.

There are also cases of some recent graduates under the scholarship scheme (majority with first class honours) who are trapped in Russia without funds for plane tickets and little or nothing from the promised stipends with which to head home. There are also other cases which are worse. Yet, our parents at the top seem undisturbed. This leads me to wonder, “Will our leaders, decision makers and those concerned with disbursement of funds treat us this way if we were their children?”

It takes little to lose hope and for the best to be lost to foreign lands or even violence. This is where most of it starts from – the neglect. We pray that the Federal Government of Nigeria will consider our plight and do the honourable thing by seeing to it that our stipends are paid so we can work hard to accomplish much, then get back to better our country.

Adzege Faeren is a Medical Student under the under the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) scholarship scheme in Russia.