- Parents apologise, disown report sponsors
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
An angry Bayelsa State Government thursday announced the stoppage of undergraduate overseas scholarships for residents of the state over what it described as a ‘wicked and malicious’ report that it had abandoned its students studying in Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
The parents of the students of Ijaw origin who are currently on scholarships in some universities abroad, including Lincoln, had in some reports stated that the Seriake Dickson-led government had failed to meet its obligations to them.
But the government reacted angrily thursday, saying the parents of the beneficiaries of the programme, by the reports, planned to embarrass it.
It expressed “shock and disbelief” over the reports allegedly sponsored by some parents of the students, noting that the government had just released about N200 million for the settlement of all outstanding obligations.
A statement by Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, the state’s Information Commissioner, described the claims by the parents as ‘false, malicious and a calculated attempt to blackmail and embarrass the Governor Dickson’s led restoration government.”
It added: “We view the claims and the manner it was widely publicised 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 laudable achievements in the education sector.
“The government equally frowns on the claim by some of the parents to pay the fees for their children, a clear ploy by them to whip up unnecessary sentiments.
“If they had the money all along to send their children abroad, how come they did not do so up until the government had taken the initiative to do so?”
Henceforth, the government said, all sponsorships involving undergraduate students abroad would be stopped while the focus would now be on postgraduate beneficiaries.
“Following this action, the state government has 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 said.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the association of parents whose children are beneficiaries in a press conference yesterday afternoon denied being behind the reports.
Describing those behind the ‘attack’ on government as ‘faceless’, President of the association, Mr. Saioyou Doutimi, flanked by several parents, said the names mentioned in the reports were fictitious.
“We want to dissociate ourselves from those people and state categorically that as authentic parents of the students, at no time did we authorise the said publication which was clearly done to embarrass the government,” he said.
Confirming the release of N200 million, he added that the parents had last month written a letter of appreciation to the government, explaining that it was shocking that the same parents would attack the same government.
“We have gone through our records and none of our children bears the name Akpos Akins, who spoke on behalf of the students.
“We apologise to the Bayelsa government for the embarrassment the said publication has caused and again make it clear that it was not from us,” Doutimi said.