By Khalid Idris Doya
The Bauchi state government has debunked what it described as misconception, lies and political propaganda put together by a group of students who were being cajoled to go against its good policies and programmes.
The permanent commissioner with the state scholarship board, Barrister Hussaini Saraki who dispelled the misconceptions Wednesday during a press briefing in Bauchi, noted that the text of the press conference held Monday by the group was written to them to deliver with a view of causing misunderstanding and rancour among the generality of the state students.
It could be recalled that a group of students under the auspices of Air Marshal Abubakar Sadiq Students (AMASS) Forum Monday rebuked the Governor Bala -led administration in the state for what they termed as lackadaisical attitude to the education sector, thereby traumatizing the students by his methods of scholarship awards.
The AMASS Forum has also blamed the present administration in the state for terminating the scholarships of 200 students of Malikiyya College of Health Technology, 10 each from the twenty Local Government Areas, whose scholarship was offered by the preceding administration in the state.
Saraki explained in the press briefing that as an institution dealing with students, the scholarship board is very careful with any information that can mislead the general public which outcome cannot be better imagined, hence their resolve to give a true picture of the situation which the students’ group run out to spoil.
The commissioner said that the explanation by the scholarship board would enable generality of the law-abiding students to appreciate the reality on ground, stating that the allegation by the group of deliberate selection of some students for the payment of allowances is far from the truth.
“The reality of the situation is that when the present administration came on board, there was a challenge on the scholarship authority to digitalize the system of allowances payment through an open portal for students placed on 5th October, 2021 through which the students applied for scholarship awards.
Barrister Hussaini Saraki disclosed that about 12, 000 students applied for the scholarship which led to the scrutiny of the students with their institutions, culminating into correspondences to forestall illegitimate students and do the right things with a view to judiciously use the funds allocated to the board.
He revealed that out of the 97 institutions the board has written to seeking information about the students, so far seven responded with genuine students numbering 5, 033 to whom allowances payment started as the first batch gulping about N98 million.
The commissioner further explained that the board cannot wait until all the 97 educational institutions respond before it starts paying the students’ scholarship allowances, hence the start of the payment in batches, assuring that all monies for that purpose are already intact on ground for their benefits.
On the issue of Malikiyya Health Institution students, the commissioner said the board has them in its heart because, as he puts it, they were indigenes of the state, and the board equally share their feelings, but as a government’s agency, things have to be done according to the law and order.
“At the inauguration of the present administration in May, 2019, the education committee of the take-over from the previous government discovered that huge sums of money were going to the Malikiyya institution, and recommended the need for the government to look into how these monies were being spent and what the actual money supposed to be going there to forestall siphoning of public funds”.
Saraki disclosed that the state government has put a committee in place to further investigate the circumstances surrounding the heavy flow of funds to Malikiyya, saying the report of the committee would be adopted by the government in providing the needs of the Malikiyya students who were genuine indigenes of the state.
He further explained that taking any step on the issue would amount to pre-empting the committee, querying “We opened a portal 5th October, screening and other things led us to November, December/January we started allowances payment, what is the political reason there as alleged by the AMASS Students forum?”
Barrister Hussaini Saraki therefore craved the indulgence of the Bauchi state students to be law-abiding, remain resolute, and be tolerant that their scholarship allowances are going to be paid as soon as confirmation from the institutions meets the board.