By Dayo Adesulu
Sixteen Nigerian medical students studying in St Vincent and Grenadines in the Caribbean, under the Rivers State Scholarship scheme, have resorted to stealing and fraudulent acts to survive, just as they are reportedly being starved of their monthly upkeep allowances and tuition fees for close to two years.
The aggrieved final year students who spoke with Vanguard separately, said that two of the medical students who are billed to graduate with the other 14 this October, went into stealing when it was apparent they didn’t know where their next meal will come from.
At the time of filing this report, some of the students (males and females) confirmed that they had not eaten for three days, let alone pay school fees.
Begging for alms
According to them, their living conditions degenerated to a level where they beg for alms in churches to survive, as their landlords eject them from their apartments due to non-payment of rent, compelling many of them to live in the streets. The fortunate few among them are presently squatting with people.
Due to non-payment of their tuition fees by the Rivers State Government, Vanguard investigation revealed that the school authorities have stopped them from completing the remaining clinical rotations before graduation.
Presently, the students who are sending save-our-soul messages to both the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government, disclosed that if the development is not checked, it will further worsen Nigeria’s already bartered image abroad.
The 16 medical students were the candidates the Rivers State Government awarded scholarships in 2013 under the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency, RSSDA. The students are accusing the Rivers State Government of abandoning them to suffer for close to two years in a strange land without any explanation.
Abandoned for two years
Recounting his ordeal, Mr Promise Adimele Amaechi, one of the medical scholars in the Caribbean, who spoke with Vanguard said:
“We are supposed to graduate in October this year, but due to non-payment of our school fees, the school authorities have stopped us from our clinical clerkships. “The school said we can’t graduate if our school fees are not paid, hence the school has to stop us from completing our remaining clinical rotations.
“Moreover, because our upkeep allowances are not paid, we can not feed and pay our rent. Because some of our landlords think we could leave the country without paying them, most students’ travelling documents have been seized and legal action taken against us to recover the debts.
“Two students among us who recently engaged in stealing and fraud in order to make ends meet, were arrested. As I speak to you, I have not eaten for the past three days, this is how bad the situation is with us.”