Begging: Nigerian PhD students in UK petition Buhari over unpaid allowances
Some Nigerians, under the aegis of Ph.D Students in the United Kingdom (UK) Universities, have cried out to the Federal Government over the alleged refusal of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to pay their allowances.
The students claimed that some of them had turned to beggars to survive in a foreign land due to non-payment of their 6-month allowances.
In a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, a copy of which was made available to PRNigeria in Abuja on Saturday, the students said all their complaints to the current leadership of PTDF led by Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau have landed on deaf ears.
They said that firms involved in accommodating and feeding them have threatened to take them to court, a development that may greatly dent the image of the country if the threats are carried out.
The PhD students noted that their “letter of admission from all our universities stated that the PhD programme will last for four years with additional one-year extension and the award letter given to each of the PhD students by the PTDF indicated that the scholarship covers accommodation, feeding and utilities for the period of thirty-six months with twelve months extension period due to the nature of the programme”.
The students further disclosed that the majority of them that started the programme in 2016 were not able to finish the programme within three years because PhD programme is a step by step process.
According to them, “If the examiners are satisfied with the report and the progress, they will allow the student to continue and if they are not satisfied the student will not continue with the research. The third-year is mostly used for designing data collection instruments, data collection, data analysis while the fourth year is generally for the writing of the thesis.
“With this step by step process it is almost impossible for many of the students to finish such a programme in three years without any challenge. There are unforeseen circumstances that can arise like a change of supervisor, lack of access to the data required for the research, health issues and shortage of resources because most of the time our allowances were paid three months late which distract us from our studies because we cannot study with an empty stomach”.
The students also noted that several letters written as individuals, a group and their universities’ supervisors to the Executive Secretary requesting for the payment of allowances to cover the one-year extension period since November 2018 have fallen on deaf ears.
They lamented that the development has led many of them passing through difficulties whereby they cannot buy food, pay their rents, electricity, water and gas bills.
The students urged Buhari to set up an inquiry to investigate the veracity of their claims as part of efforts to bring the Executive Secretary to order and close the communication gap between them and the management of PTDF.
Calls, text messages, including email sent to the Head of Media and External Affairs of PTDF were not replied as at press time.