OPEN LETTER: Ebonyi First Class Graduates Petition Gov. Umahi Over Unfulfilled Scholarship Promise


Eng. Dave Umahi
15th July 2020
Engr. Dave Umahi
The Executive Governor
Ebonyi State

Your excellency,
I would rather be accused of breaking precedence than breaking promises- John F.Kennedy
Your address during the public participation (citizens’ input/consultation on the revised 2020 budget) at the state Capital, Ecumenical Center Abakaliki on 24th June 2020 shows that the need to put Ebonyi State on a better list against all odds is invariably giving you much concern. Thank you, His Excellency, for using the opportunity to reassure the citizens that you will finish all your projects before the end of your tenure (2023).
However, it is with a high sense of nostalgia, rejection and perceived abandonment that we, the 82 first-class graduates whom you publicly awarded a fully-funded scholarship from Masters to PhD write this open letter. We have resorted to writing this open letter as the only means to draw your attention and the state government to our plights and appeal to you to keep to your promise or set the records straight.

Your Excellency, it is on record that on the 10th of July 2019, after the rigorous screening of the said eighty-two (82) first-class graduates drawn from the thirteen (13) local governments areas in the state and across various disciplines; and having been satisfied with our level of performance and capabilities to make meaningful contributions to the development of the state, you promised that the State Government will sponsor us to further our studies up to PhD level. This public pronouncement went viral and was lauded by numerous media channels as a right step in the right direction and a show of commitment by the government of Ebonyi State under your leadership to enhance human capacity development. We also note that in the said pronouncement, you promised to pay the beneficiaries a monthly allowance of 20,000 naira throughout the duration of our studies and immediately mandated the Secretary to the State Government to pay the beneficiaries a take-off wardrobe allowance of 50,000 naira only. You also mandated the State Ministry of Projects Monitoring and Evaluation to immediately employ three graduates of civil engineering among us. Your Excellency, in later development, you also announced that the state government through a partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria has secured automatic employment for ten other beneficiaries of the state-sponsored scholarship

We are glad to note that the wardrobe allowance of 50,000 naira was paid to all beneficiaries on 12th August 2019, and the employment of the three graduates of civil engineering. As expected, we did not hesitate to show our esteemed gratitude to you the state governor for taking the first step in fulfilling your promise. Our letter of appreciation dated 15th August 2019 was also aired on the Ebonyi State Broadcasting Corporation (EBBC) on 20th August 2019 by 8.50 am. We cannot forget to inform you that the paid wardrobe allowance was very instrumental in reinforcing our hope and optimism in the government and to show our own commitment in maximizing the offer, we utilized part of the allowance to process our admission into various institutions since it was a condition to accessing the offer.

Your Excellency, we wish to bring to your notice that about 90 per cent of the 82 beneficiaries got our admission between September and November 2019 and have since completed our documentation with the Ebonyi State Scholarship Board with details of the schedule of payment by our different institutions as mandated by the board. Contrarily, it is now over one year since this scholarship offer was made, amidst repeated appeals and reminders, we regret to note that we have not received funds from the government for the tuition fee and other payments. We are equally saddened to note the eccentric retrenchment of our colleagues from the Ministry of Projects Monitoring and Evaluation without due notification or adequate compensation. In addition, the automatic employment with the CBN has remained fuzzy and yet-to-be-fulfilled one year after the pronouncement. Some of us have lost our admissions because we couldn’t meet up with payment deadlines of our institutions of choice; others have borrowed to pay fees and are now trapped with paying exorbitant interests. Worst still is that our friends and relations who are also abreast of the state government’s promise have since withdrawn their support, further compounding our frustration as some of us abandoned our previous jobs in the hope of full support and sponsorship from the government. Invariably, we cannot leverage on Covid-19 pandemic for excuses because all commitments were made long before the outbreak of the virus

Your Excellency, initially we were constrained from publishing this letter following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. We assumed that the financial involvements in containing the pandemic contributed to the delay in fulfilling your promise but we note that all our documentations and efforts to reach you were made months before the COVID-19 outbreak. We have made several appeals to the office of the SSG, the office of the Commissioner of Education and Ebonyi State Scholarship Board but all yielded no results. We have also tried to reach you through your social media handle, close friends and associates but all efforts have proven abortive. More worrisome was the response we got on 24th June 2020 from the office of your deputy, Barr Kelechi Igwe, through his personal assistant, where he referred to the fulfilment of your pronouncement as a post-COVID-19 probable agendum for consideration. A development/statement that is not in tandem with your initial pronouncement hence we doubt its credibility.

We have since been invaded by a feeling of rejection, frustration, sequestration, reclusion, despondence and wanton despair, hence we do not have any information or correspondence as to the past and future delay in the disbursement of the said scholarship fund, the CBN automatic Employment and the retrenchment of our colleagues from the Ministry of Projects Monitoring and Evaluation. We can no longer brook with the psychological allure and weal of a promise yet to be kept one year on especially when we consider the timeframe for both Masters and Doctoral degree programs
Your Excellency, we suspect that you do not know of our current pitiable state; we feel some persons are out to score some cheap political points against your government and are blocking all channels of goodwill and communication with you. We have therefore taken this step not to indict anyone but to alert you that your children are suffering in utter abandonment. We humbly wish to use this medium to appeal to you to enforce the immediate disbursement of the scholarship funds as promised, as our institutions resort to e-learning which is being projected globally; and set the records straight that you are committed to keeping your promises. We are convinced that the cognate issues raised in this letter will meet your favourable dispositions.
Please accept, Our first-class governor, the assurance of our highest regards.
Signed: Ebonyi First Class Club (EBFC) in solidarity.

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