PTDF Boss, Dr Bello Gusau
PTDF Boss, Dr. Bello Gusau

REJOINDER: Nigerian Phd Scholars in UK/US Commend PTDF Overseas Scholarship Scheme

A Rejoinder to Nigerian Phd Students in UK Turn Beggars Due to Non-Payment of Allowances- Setting the Record Straight

We have read with unprecedented shock and sheer disappointment, a petition to the Presidency against Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and its current leadership; by some persons unknown to us who claim to be Nigerian PhD Students in the United Kingdom.

The baseless petition is full of nothing but downright mischief, flagrant misinformation and concocted lies aimed at blackmailing the PTDF leadership and hoodwinking the Presidency into taking actions that could have adverse consequences on patriotic Nigerians pursuing their PhD degrees in the UK and other foreign countries; who are privileged and proud recipients of the PTDF overseas scholarship scheme.

It is worth clarifying that the PTDF Overseas Scholarship (OSS) Scheme is one of the best scholarships in the world offered by any government to its citizens. Not even the prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship by the UK Government is any better than the PTDF Scholarship.

Therefore, it is a reckless and wanton display of the highest level of ingratitude, treachery and meanness to resort to cheap blackmail based on unfounded allegations; instead of commending the PTDF for not only sustaining the scholarship award but also offering more of such opportunities to Nigerians despite the economic challenges facing the country.

Also, it beats our imagination how comfortable the faceless scholars feel to spread such cruel lies as their unfortunate form of showing gratitude to the rare golden opportunity given them by the PTDF. Consequently, we feel obliged to clear the air and set the records straight.

Firstly, the scholars claimed in the petition that majority of them started their PhD programmes in 2016. We the 2016 awardees of the PTDF OSS wish to unequivocally inform the public that they are not part of us, we do not know them, and we have absolutely nothing to do with their baseless petition. We have platforms through which we communicate among ourselves to share information and none of us has been at any point in time, aware of any of the claims made in the petition.

We only saw the spurious claims in the newspaper reports and hence took a collective decision to write this rejoinder and set the records straight. Even if it is true that the petitioners started their PhD programmes in 2016, they should have been courageous enough to disclose the year of their award and why they delayed until 2016 before they started their programmes. Because we the 2016 awardees have not completed our three years yet, it makes no sense to claim that an application for extension has run into at least six months without being paid.

Secondly, it is ridiculous and absurd to tell the president in their petition that “the firms involved in accommodating and feeding them have threatened to take them to court.” The truth of the matter is that PTDF does not contract any firm to feed or accommodate its scholars. Monthly maintenance fees covering living expenses, accommodation and utilities are paid directly into the accounts of the scholars upfront at half-yearly interval, and scholars are at liberty to budget the amount based on their specific needs. It is thus unfortunate for whoever claimed to have started their programme in 2016 to make that mischievous claim.

Thirdly, it is fascinating that the petitioners, instead of mentioning to the president the terms oftheir PTDF awards, mischievously wrote that letters of admission from all their universities stated that the PhD programme would last for four years with additional one-year extension. However, the award letter of PTDF PhD scholarship given to each scholar categorically states that “the duration of the scholarship is thirty six (36) calendar months”. It goes further to mention that “the
award covers the payment of tuition (as invoiced by the university); return air ticket; one-off payments (for laptops, books & stationery, sheets, towels & cutlery as well as warm clothing), payment of allowances which includes living expenses, accommodation and utilities.” All scholars willingly accepted the award before embarking on their academic journey. So, we wonder why they were being economical with the truth and concealed that from the President in their petition.

Furthermore, what obtains in UK universities is a total duration of four years; three years for research and an additional year for writing up. Extensions in the programme duration are not part of the offer, as they are usually triggered by extenuating circumstances. Moreover, they should have unambiguously highlighted to the President where the PTDF has specifically failed or defaulted in its award rather than being deceitful.

Fourthly, their claim in the petition that “most of the time our allowances were paid three months late” is nothing but a blatant lie. To set the records straight and to be fair to the PTDF, we receive our allowances not only promptly but also well ahead of time. Our allowances have never been delayed by up to a month, let alone three months, as they claimed. As at present, we have received our payment for the second half of 2019 since in the month of May and it covers the period between
July to December of 2019. That is how prompt our payments have been since we started in 2016, except in a rare case where there was a delay in processing, which lasted for days only. So, we do not really know where and how the claim of late payment came about, for scholars who claimed to have started their programmes in the same year as us. It does not make sense.

Lastly, the PTDF has its extension policy which it circulates to all scholars who may wish to apply for extension. We the 2016 awardees have already received emails from the PTDF with the policy attached. This came at a time we are about completing our third year and even before we requested for it. The policy categorically states that “Scholarship schemes all over the world do not entertain extension, the PTDF found it expedient however to grant such based strictly on the merit of specific
cases. Therefore, this clearly indicates that extension is a privilege and not a right binding on the PTDF from the award of scholarships to beneficiaries.

In conclusion, while we understand and fully respect the rights and freedoms of the petitioners to write any request, appeal or petition to and/or against any person, it is only fair, responsible and patriotic that they do so based purely on substantiated facts and without concealing or misrepresenting the truth in order to get undue public sympathy and needlessly mislead the Presidency into taking actions that could adversely affect other scholars. We would therefore like to advise them that henceforth, they should pursue whatever genuine grievances they may have temptation to distort facts in order to push forward their case and cause unnecessary stir.

Signed for and on behalf of PTDF 2016 PhD Scholars:
Ahmad Idris Tambuwal, University of Bradford – UK
Bintu G. Mustafa, University of Leeds – UK
David Chikwendu, University of Leeds – UK
David Igwesi, University of Liverpool – UK
El-Majid Yusuf, De Montfort University – UK
Emmanuel A. Awulu, University of Aberdeen – UK
Fauziya Ado Yakasai, Auburn University – USA
Habiba M. Sani University of Bradford – UK
Idris Musa, Newcastle University – UK
Ibrahim Hassan, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow – UK
Karatu Musa, University of Aberdeen, Scotland – UK
Kabiru Ayuba, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire – UK
Maje Haruna, University of Leeds – UK
Mansur Hamma-adama, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland -UK
Oluwatosin Murele, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire – UK
Tukur Yusuf Muhammad, University of Bradford – UK
Tunji Owoseni, The University of Nottingham – UK
Victor Etim, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire – UK
Victor Taghoghor Omoni, Lancaster University – UK
Wakil Bunu Balumi, Oklahoma State University – USA