The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has tackled the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, over an alleged negligence to their welfare, which borders on payment of bursary, issuance of scholarship, improved condition of learning and grants for special students (Law and Medical students).
The students body also raised the alarm to threat to lives of its leadership particularly of its President, Comrade Danielson Akpan.
Addressing a press conference in Uyo on Tuesday, the NANs president said since the Akwa Ibom State Government has failed to honour the one week ultimatum issued it to pay up the bursary owed it’s students, the students have no option than to embark on massive protests.
He also warned Governor Emmanuel to risk vote apathy from the students community if he fails to yield to their course.
Akpan recalled that since the ultimatum was issued to the state government on January 12, 2019, his executive members and himself have been inundated with harassments and threats to their lives noting that governor Emmanuel should be held responsible incase something bad happens to him or any of his executive members.
He wondered why Gov. Emmanuel led administration was unable to pay bursary, which is their constitutional right but has the money and resources to quickly pay not less than N100 million to some unidentified students within one month just to seek political endorsement.
The statement partly read, “NANS has demanded for immediate payment of bursary and scholarship. The ultimatum elapsed today as the Akwa Ibom government has deliberately refused to pay bursary to students since assumption of governor Emmanuel to office.
“A government that courts students on political praise singing cannot but be determined to punish them for ignorantly signing out their future in exchange for political patronage.
“The students, not those usually hired for political endorsements are determined this time to secure their rights. They have decided to embark on massive protests; there will be total resistance to the sheer neglect of the rights of students.
“We can no longer remain pawns on their chessboard. The Udom government has denigrated Akwa Ibom students and it is time to say Enough is Enough!
“Ever since we issued the ultimatum, we are aware that there are plans to silence our position and possibly come after key officials of the NANS leadership, particularly the president of NANS. We have been reliably informed that some thugs have been contracted to hack down NANS president. We are calling on the entire world to hold governor Udom responsible should anything happens to the NANS president or any of the officials.
“Having failed in delivering dividends of democracy in the educational sector, the governor resorted to hiring the students for political endorsements. It is the height of degradation of our dignity. This total neglect of education is akin to taking us back to the inglorious days of slavery, human capital under development and poor education.
“Allocations to Tertiary Institutions are grossly inadequate and infrastructural facilities are overstretched and obsolete. We call on the government to rededicate to the human capital development instead of impoverishing them.”
On why the agitation was coming few days to the elections and whether it was politically motivated, the outspoken President said, “The time to fight for our rights is now, besides i assumed office as the NANS president few months ago.
“Our course has nothing to do with political lines, recall that few days ago we gave an ultimatum to President Buhari concerning the ASUU strike, that was what compelled the Federal government to reconvene a meeting with ASUU which i believe will yield positive results.
“It is not about a political party but about government. It is mischievous for Akwa Ibom state government to hide under the umbrella of lack of funds to not pay bursary. Akwa Ibom is one of the richest if not the richest state in the country.
Rivers State pays bursary, Delta state pays too, as a matter of fact I was invited as the president of NANS to launch that of 2018/2019 bursary as at October 2018 in Delta state. Delta students around the length and breath of the world are captured in bursary. Rivers and Delta are in the category of Akwa Ibom state.
“There are states that are financially handicapped that cannot take care of themselves not to talk more of bursary and scholarship yet they are doing it. For instance Nasarawa state is known to be financially handicapped, yet, the governor pays bursary and even the welfare of special students were taken care of. The governor even went as far as providing grants and laptops for them.
“States like Zamfara, Borno that are ridden with crises are investing so much in the education sector. Can you compare their federal allocations and the IGR accrued to those states to Akwa Ibom State,” he queried.
Akpan, who, however, noted that successive governments in Akwa Ibom paid bursary to the students from Akwa Ibom State, urged the students to remain law abiding and non-violent as they stage protests to pursue their rights in legitimate and intellectual ways.
However, when the Commissioner of Information, Mr. Charles Udoh was contacted to get his reaction, he said, “First and foremost I wish to state that the authentic NANS leadership have been in discussions with representatives of the state government to agree modalities for Registration, Verification and pre-qualification of beneficiaries. These are requisite processes that must be completed before computation and execution.
“Any NANS group threatening to carry out a protest is obviously on the path of a political motivated blackmail to smear government.
“The alleged harassment of the student’s officials by the agents of the state government is another in the series of fictions created by the opposition in the state in a desperate attempt to continue their mud slinging assault on the state government.”