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THE EXTORTION OF THE LESS PRIVILEGED: What the People of Ondo state should know about Bursary and Scholarship.

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Ondo State in its uniqueness is endowed with all kinds of natural gifts ranging from rich agricultural soil , with its attendants food and cash crops growth, large crude oil deposit, water creatures to mention but a few. With these and many more resources, we can boast of the state's self-reliance and economic benefits.

Every emerging government in Ondo state has tried its best to ensure that the people benefit from the natural endowments. Kudos, to our past and present Leaders.

However, it is painful and disheartening to note that none of the existed or existing governments has really met the possible needs of a section of the masses, THE STUDENTS. Any policy and possible way to assist the students has always either marginalized or exploited the needy students. You will ask, how?

The reasons are not far-fetched. Even our leaders, if they want to be honest and reason with us, know that the standard for the selection of the beneficiaries of the Bursary and Scholarship every year is not only worthless but also unfair to students.

In brief, students registered for the Bursary and Scholarships with five hundred naira each. This makes a total one thousand naira only per head (if qualified for both).

A sort of kangaroo examination was posted for all registered students at the same time (12noon – 1 pm) same day on a never-do –well network. The networks ended-up not responding or even slow as many students could not even have access into their pages let alone attempt the questions. At the end, the state Government (through the Scholarship Board) used the poor outcome to award Scholarship of one hundred thousand naira to insignificant lucky students. This is objectionable.

In the past, when examinations were not conducted, twenty five thousand naira each was awarded to all students who were on good standing in their various educational institutions. So many of these students were precluded from the benefits this year because of the poorly conducted examinations

Many issues could be deduced from the analyses above

First, if the Bursary and Scholarship awards are meant to aid the Ondo state students financially, what is the need to apply with the payment of an amount? It will interest you to know that many students who are qualified to apply could not apply owing to lack of fund. Yet, the state government claims 'financial aid '. Does it mean that the state cannot allow the students to apply without charges? Please, answer that question in relation to the wealth we problem in our state.

Secondly, let us do a little calculation. Multiply #1000 with #10000. This means that 10,000 students registered with 1000 each. By records and publications, only few students were awarded scholarship out of the majority of the applicants with non-refundable application charges

It is evident that there was a kind of calculated exploitation of the poor and guiltless students. The board has robbed Peter to pay Paul. This is highly undesirable. This trend has not only marginalized the students , as those who were not granted have turned their backs against the 'lucky awardees' but also created dichotomy among the students as no one voice could be had to challenge the anomalies. So many chapters have been weakened by this style. The board has awarded the sum to some chapter leaders to preclude possible unrest and struggle. This is dishonest. Gone were those days when 'injustice to one was injustice to all'… pitiable

My point is this, why has the state government (through the Board) based the criterion for the selection of beneficiaries on the poorly conducted examinations. You will say, 'they are not aware'. That is fallacious. They were. Good and several attempts were made by some committed chapter leaders who petitioned the Board to either revert their decision to utilize the examination or conduct another examination, but it was quite lamentable that the Board was indifferent.

In my view, the government has only based such benefits on luck and not on merits. This is obviously contrary to the excellence and virtue we claim in our dear Ondo state. In related development, students who were on good standings were being paid #25,000 each even without being subjected to any further examination. Without any misgivings and selfishness, I make bold to say that was better! Why? Quite a number of students benefited from that as against the #100,000 each given to insignificant number. By subjecting good-standing students to examinations, the state is holding that the tertiary institutions, where students study are not reliable.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that examinations be not conducted. Ondo state students are brilliant and will pass any examination, I trust. If examination has to be conducted, it has to be monitored and guided against any likelihood of luck. The last E-TEST confirmed that the state is not ripe for such examination. Better mean should be employed next time.

The state has also been inequitable to all students by awarding certain bursary and scholarship to 'sectional students'. For example, we (all students) claim our state is the only oil producing state in the south western Nigeria, but only a segment of the students benefit from this. I humbly demand that all students should benefit from the state oil resources without prejudice.

Ondo state is the 5th largest oil producing state in the country, there is nothing impossible that we cannot do in respect to assisting the needy students. The government must also consider financial aid of the students as a priority and budget more of its annual spending on this.

In summary, successive governments in Ondo state despite its brag and pride have failed to meet up to the expectations of the students. We can also say from the above and many more issues to unfold that there have always been ANTI –STUDENT DEMOCRACY in the state. Let us be frank with one another.

We hope for a change in govt orientations. Our leaders must understand our plights. They must remember that they were once students, and that the present cost of education cannot be compared with what obtained in the past. They must understand that the future of the state lies on the growing youth. We need to be assisted

While we advocate a more receptive and accommodation government in the state, we employ successful citizens of the state who are well-to-do to assist the government in providing financial supports to the disadvantaged students as the state government has proved inability to do it alone. As the Ondo state govt should in turn correct these anomalies in the nearest future, we .the students, declare and reaffirm that we shall be good ambassador of the State and be committed to the transformation agenda.

Thanks for your understanding.

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