The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), purported to be sponsoring over 300 Nigerian students on scholarship at Constanta Maritime University, Romania, may be failing in its obligations. The students are reported to be under threat of expulsion from the university over the alleged refusal of the agency to pay their school fees and other various allowances, says Premium Times.
Sources say the university officials have threatened to deport the Nigerian students back to Nigeria for their inability to settle their fees.
The fees of the students, who are studying engineering, navigation and naval transport, are a total of €5,720 each which is about N1.23m using the current international exchange rate. The affected students are in their first, second and third years at the university.
The break down shows that each of them pays €4,500 as school fees; €300 as feeding allowance; €400 for accommodation; €220 as stipends and €300 as winter allowance.
The school fees and winter allowance are annual payments but the feeding, accommodation and stipends are monthly payments.
Divulging this information to the media, one of the students who has asked to be anonymous for fear of being victimised said the school authorities have given them (and NIMASA) a January 31 deadline or face being sent back to Nigeria.
“We are stranded, confused and cannot concentrate on our studies based on the unfortunate news of expulsion unleashed to them by the school,” he said. “The school has said that if by 30th of January the school fees are not paid it has no option than to return us back home.” He revealed that all efforts by the university officials to reach NIMASA to resolve the issue have proved futile with “no positive response from the agency concerning the future of the students in the school.”
He pleaded with the Federal Ministries of Transport and Education as well as the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Transport to intervene “for the sake of these young Nigerians who are eager to contribute their quota towards national development”.
When contacted about the situation, a senior official of NIMASA disclosed unofficially that the agency was currently going through some challenges which has caused a delay in paying the fees and allowances, assuring that the matter was being addressed and that the students would be paid soon.
I’m sure you know the challenges NIMASA is facing; we are trying to sort things out.
We have an acting director general and you know other issues like the TSA (Treasury Single Account) and others. But we have commenced processing of their payment.”
NIMASA had sent over 2,500 young Nigerians on scholarship to reputable institutions in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania, India and The Philippines to study marine engineering, naval architecture and nautical sciences under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme.
Recall that Patrick Akpobolokemi, an ex-boss of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and six others are currently facing corruption charges over alleged theft of N2.6 billion belonging to NIMASA.
Also,the Federal Government had, on Tuesday through the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, threatened it might approach the National Assembly, to repeal the Act setting up the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, if its management fails to justify the judicious utilisation of the huge resources at its disposal and the recent massive fraud being unveiled in the agency.