Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has approved an increment of 100 per cent on bursary payable to students of Lagos State origin in tertiary institutions across the country.
The Executive Secretary, of Lagos State Scholarship Board, Mr Abdur Rahaman Lekki said in a statement over the weekend, saying the new increment would take effect from the 2022/ 2023 academic session.
Lekki said that he had already informed representatives of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Lagos State Chapter, and the National Union of Lagos State Students (NULASS) at a meeting at Alausa, Ikeja.
He said that the meeting was held at the instance of the Special Adviser to Governor Sanwo- Olu on Education, Mr Tokunbo Wahab.
Lekki said that the meeting had in attendance, the presidents and some executive members of both the two students union bodies, NANS and NULAS and representatives of the state government.
He said that the 100 per cent bursary increment and other benefits were aimed at supporting the educational needs of students of Lagos state origin, to let them cope with the present economic reality.
Lekki also disclosed that the government at the just concluded State Economic Summit known as ”Ehingbeti Summit” had approved the resolutions on the establishment of Lagos Diaspora Scholarship Fund.
According to him, the scholarship fund is aimed at providing scholarship and bursary benefits generally to all Lagos state resident students in tertiary institutions, in any part of the country, to support their education.
He appealed to the students over a little delay in the payment of the remaining 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 bursary/ scholarship benefits.
The board secretary said that the delay was necessitated by the ongoing data-cleansing/verification exercise across all institutions by the state government,
”The ongoing data-cleansing/verification exercise is to ensure that only qualified students of Lagos state origin benefited from the scheme,” he said.
Lekki that the Lagos state scholarship board through the ongoing verification and data cleansing exercise discovered a fraudulent act, which was at the expense of the original students of the state that the scheme was meant for.
He said that it was discovered that some people who either were no more students or not even students of any higher institution were benefiting from the scheme.
The board secretary assured that prompt payment of both bursary and scholarship benefits for the outstanding years would begin immediately after the ongoing exercise was completed.
According to him, for the avoidance of doubt, effective from Monday, October 17, students of the Lagos State College of Heath Technology (LASCOHET) will get their outstanding payments for the 2020/2021 academic year.
He said that the management of LASCOHET had completed the students’ verification exercise and forwarded the list of its authentic students to the board.
Lekki also said that the Board had scheduled assessment tests for fresh beneficiaries for the year 2022/2023 scholarship benefit for Oct. 29, as necessary details had been sent to qualified applicants.
While allaying the students’ fear that the state government was planning to stop the scheme, he said that there was no basis to stop it since there was provision for it in the state budget.
According to him, the 2023 budget of the state government has captured the new increment and other benefits to make life more bearable for students in their studies.
”I want you to remember that the state government just appointed a new board secretary to the Lagos state scholarship board for the administration of both bursary and scholarship benefits.
”That is even enough for you to know there was no plan at any time to stop the scheme. Both bursary and scholarship schemes will continue unstopped for the benefits of our students.
”Rather than stopping it, the governor will continue to improve on it as part of the measures to realise his vision for sustainable educational growth for the state, in line with the T.H.E.M.E.S development agenda,” he said.
In their response, the leadership of the two students bodies, NANS and NULASS dispelled rumours that their members planned blocking the Third Mainland Bridge on Oct. 17 in protest of the delay in the disbursement of outstanding benefits for 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 academic sessions.
They were represented by their presidents, Olusesi Tolulope (NANS) and Shasanya Akinola (NULASS) along with other exco members.
They described the rumour of protest by students of Lagos State origin as blatant lies, noting that their members had absolute confidence in Sanwo-Olu as a responsible governor and father who they could trust for his promises.
The students’union leaders presented a letter of assurances from their members to the state government.
They said that the administration of Sanwo-Olu had not only demonstrated commitment to the growth of education, through various reforms, but had also ensured prompt and seamless payment of both scholarship and bursary benefits in the past.
The students also commended the governor for payments of all the backlogs inherited by his administration,
They said the planned protest, if there was any, was the handiwork of faceless and disgruntled individuals, whose stock in trade was falsehood and disturbance of public peace.