Mr. Abasi Aikien, a Bayelsa state student on scholarship at the University College Sedaya International, Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia, who was allegedly abandoned by the state government has graduated with distinction.
Aikien, who was offered scholarship in 2008 by the state scholarship board due to his sterling academic performance and coming up tops at different national competitions where he represented Bayelsa state including the National Institute of Physics competition in Kaduna State between 15th – 18th September in 2004 and Science Teachers Association of Nigeria competition in 2006 was said to have been left to his fate since 2014 through the state government’s inability to settle his school fees and maintenance expenses.
It was further learnt that due to the development, his parents – Mr. Roosevelt Abasi and Mrs. Jonah-Abasi Bemeyi, both teachers in Bayelsa state, took over the payment of the student’s school fees until they could no longer pay.
Aikien’s father, Roosevelt Abasi, had in 2016, cried out for help, saying that his family could no longer cope with the high school fees and upkeep allowances.
He said there was virtually nothing left for them to sell anymore to continue to cater for Aikien’s fees and maintenance expenses.
Abasi said at a point, they resorted to taking loans to see the student through, but sadly noted that the family could not service the loans any longer.
The situation was made worse as Aikien faced detention and possible deportation at that time for failure to pay his tuition fee which would have amounted to violation of his visa conditions.
Abasi said the family had expended over ₦8m for his (Aikien’s) tuition and upkeep in Malaysia since 2014. He lamented, “We have sold all that we have to bear the burden the Bayelsa State Government has placed on us.
A non-governmental organisation, Patriotism Advancement and Community Orientation of Network through a press statement on 20th December, 2016 had drawn the attention of the state government to Aikien’s plight.
The group which was interfacing between the government and the parents, had raised the alarm that Aikien faces detention and expulsion from school if he failed to pay up his fees on or before January 4, 2017.
Heeding to the call, the government released the sum of ₦1,064.699 later in the month of December, 2016 to the school with the promise of defraying the deficit with time.
Not satisfied with government’s response, the group took it upon itself to seek funds on every available social media platform to raise the needed funds and even created a GoFundMe account for Aikien.
Investigations revealed that PACON’s efforts were successful as notable figures within and outside the state came to the financial aide of Aikien by donating and assisting him through his family.
An elated Aikien who was present at the school’s convocation ceremony on the 19th of August, 2018 expressed joy, describing it as the best day of his life. “After 5 years of painstaking study, devotion, hard work and perseverance, finally I’m now officially an Engineer. I didn’t just graduate, but I’ve graduated with distinction.
“I wish to thank all those who have contributed in one way or another towards my success today. Thanks very much and God bless you.” He stated.
The Arch-Convener, PACON, Mr. Aluzu Augustine, in a statement on Friday in yenagoa thanked all those who made sure Aikien remained in Malaysia to complete his studies.
He thanked Aikien for keeping his head high despite his sordid experience in the hands of Bayelsa state scholarship board to make his family and state proud by graduating with distinction.
Aluzu also stated that Mr. Abasi (Aikien’s father) is still being owed over ₦15m by Bayelsa state government as amount spent for seminar, accommodation, industrial training, return ticket, graduation fee, stipends and other miscellaneous and urged the state government to defray the deficit owed the school and Aikien’s parents. “We have since sent a petition to the Committee on Education in the state House of Assembly over the shambolic way Bayelsans are being treated under the current leadership of the scholarship board.
“As an organisation, we are happy with the news of his graduation. Nobody deserves to be treated the way Aikien was treated by the state government.
“Aikien as a beneficiary of state scholarship should ordinarily be entitled to his tuition and stipends as well. We urge the government to do the needful and clear its deficit.” He said.