Kebbi dental students in India denied certs over unpaid fees
The controversy surrounding Kebbi State Dental students studying in India whose certificates were withheld by the university over non-payment of hostel fees and upkeep allowances by the state scholarship board has continued to generate concern.
Though the Commissioner for Higher Education in the state, Professor Mukhtar Umar Bunza, in a letter to the authorities of Bharati Vidyapeeh University in India, dated 14/03/2018 said the tuition and other fees applicable to the students including those on internship have already been processed and awaiting the approval of the state governor, the students have again raised alarm, claiming that their upkeep allowances were yet to be paid months after the commissioner promised the school authorities.
When our correspondent sought the comment of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Higher Education, Dr. Muhammed Isa Sama, on the matter he declined comment but referred Daily Trust to the Acting Executive Secretary of the state scholarship board.
When our correspondent contacted the Acting Executive Secretary, Malam Abbas Muhammed Birnin Kebbi, he said “Only two of the nine dental students being sponsored by the state government are presently in India because they had to repeat their courses. The remaining seven are in Kebbi now; some of them came to my office last week.”
“What I don’t understand is why people who have been under government sponsorship for over four years are now complaining about tuition fees and upkeep allowances and even writing letters to media houses when their files are already before the governor for approval. If they think it is by writing letter to Daily Trust that will help to resolve their matters they should continue,” he stated.
The challenges facing the Kebbi State’s 15 MBBS and nine dental students in an Indian university worsened when some top officials allegedly connived with some bureau de change traders in Kano to divert part of the N137 million released by the state government to settle upkeep allowances.
Officials involved in the matter were questioned by the police and those found guilty were said to have been discipline, a source said.
The MBBS and seven dental students have graduated while the remaining two dental students would soon graduate. However the certificates of all the dental students were held over non-payment of hostel fees.
The dental students, had in an open letter in April signed by two of their leaders, Nura Samaila and Allyassa U. Ibrahim, called the attention of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu to their plight and suffering in India.
They claimed in the letter that because of the refusal of the board to pay their 2016/2017 upkeep allowance it has been difficult for them to settle their hostel fees and their certificates were being held by the university authorities.
However, in a swift reaction, a former commissioner for higher education, Alhaji Abdullahi Mai-Gari Dakingari, debunked their claims. He described it as untrue and that they couldn’t be suffering and stranded in India.
“These students you are talking about were in my office this morning. Their issue is before the governor and I am only waiting for his approval. How can they claim they are in India their tuition fees and when they have finished their studies and are already in Kebbi?”
Worried by the development, Governor Bagudu during its 2018 budget presentation at the state House of Assembly said the state has been paying its overseas students scholarship promptly except students in India because of the sharp practices by some top officials of the Ministry of Higher Education and the state scholarship board. “Major actions have been taken against the officials who tampered with the fund meant for the students’ tuition fees and allowances. I will personally ensure that their fees are paid soon,” he said.
In the letter to the university, the government restated its commitment to the timely settlement of its sponsored students’ tuition and up-keep allowances.
It reads in part: “Consequent upon this, we are requesting the management of your university to release all documents relating to the MBBS graduands on receipt of the balance of their tuition fees so that they could return home immediately and attend to other engagements, notably writing qualification examinations of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria scheduled to take place in April 2018”.
The state government maintained that the payment of the students’ fees was treated on priority bases with each case on its merit. “To this extent, therefore, the balance of tuition fees of these 15 MBBS students to the tune of US $46,515 as per your records has already been approved by the Kebbi State Government,” the higher education commissioner said in the letter.
The government also stated the cut-off date for the payment of the remaining 2017/18 allowances of the dental students.
Professor Mukhtar Umar Bunza
Gov Abubakar Atiku Bagudu