Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
Mr. Abasi Aikien, a Bayelsa State student on scholarship at the University College Sedaya International, Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia, has allegedly been abandoned by the state government.
It was learnt that Aikien, who is studying Mechatronics Engineering in the Asian country, had been left to his fate since 2014 through the state government’s inability to settle his school fees and maintenance expenses.
It was further learnt that due to the development, his parents – Mr. Roosevelt Abasi and Mrs. Bemeyi Abasi, both teachers in Bayelsa State, took over the payment of the student’s school fees until they could no longer pay.
Aikien’s father Roosevelt Abasi, has, therefore, cried out for help, saying that his family could no longer cope with the high school fees and upkeep allowances.
He said there was virtually nothing left for them to sell anymore to continue to cater for Aikien’s fees and maintenance expenses.
Abasi said at a point, they resorted to taking loans to see the student through, but sadly noted that the family could not service the loans any longer.
Abasi said despite the harsh economy and excruciating pains of teachers in the state, the family had spent over N7m for his (Aikien’s) tuition and upkeep in Malaysia since 2014. He lamented, “We have sold all that we have to bear the burden the Bayelsa State Government has placed on us.
“As teachers, given the salary situation in the state, we can no longer cope and there is virtually nothing left to sell except our dwelling house. We even resorted to taking loans, now we can no longer service the loans.”
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation, Patriotic Citizens of Nigeria, interfacing between the government and the parents, has raised the alarm that Aikien faces detention and expulsion from school if he failed to pay up his fees on or before January 4, 2017.
The Arch-Convener, PACON, Mr. Aluzu Ebikebuna Augustine, in a statement on Friday, said Abasi (Aikien’s father) already owed RM22,285.00 Malaysian Riggit, approximately $6,198.28 (an estimated N2.5m).
Augustine said, “Several times, the Bayelsa state Government promised him and his educational provider, and repeatedly the government which Aikien has given his all for failed.
“The student has missed a year because of the inaction of the state government. His family came to his rescue. Now, the family has sold everything and cannot meet up the outstanding fees.
“They have even begged prominent politicians in the state to come to their son’s aid but to no avail.
“Aikien is supposed to graduate next year, but his fees are now between him and his qualification. He also faces possible detention and deportation from Malaysia if he does not pay his tuition on January 4, 2017.
“The development will amount to violation of his current visa conditions and the action that can be taken against him by the Malaysian government is detention, handcuff and removal. If that happens, it will be seven years of wasted academic pursuit.
“It is understood that the government of Bayelsa has released over N200m for payment of stipends and scholarship for students in Lincoln University and King’s University College Ghana.
“Aikien is still a beneficiary of state scholarship and should ordinarily be entitled to his tuition and stipends as well.”
The Bayelsa State Government had in a letter written to UCSI University on May 7, 2015, acknowledged that Aikien was a state-sponsored scholarship student of the university.
The letter signed by the Secretary, BSSB, Collins Ifidi, noted that Aikien had been awarded scholarship to pursue Bachelor degree at USCI University and that the scholarship covered the entire duration of his studies.