We Didn’t Send Nor Abandon 43 Students Abroad – Amnesty Office Explains

Source: thewillnigeria.com

BEVERLY HILLS, May 10, (THEWILL) – The Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, on Tuesday debunked media reports that it sent 43 students to the United States, U.S, last year through a vendor, Kaplan International Colleges, KICL, and abandoned them without paying their Tuition Fees or Allowances.

A statement signed by the Media & Communication Consultant to Presidential Amnesty Office; Owei Lakemfa explained that the Amnesty Office placed 51 students under the one year Kaplan International Pathway (Pre-Degree) Programme which was to run from October 2014 – September, 2015, adding that the programme included a nine-month study in Lagos and three-month Bridge Programme in the U.S.

It explained that after the Lagos programme ended in May 2015 with 43 students meeting the required grading that made them eligible for the three-month programme in the U.S, the out-going Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku directed Kaplan not to deploy the 43 students abroad owing to the dearth of funds and resources in the Amnesty Office.

The statement continued that even though the management of the Amnesty Office under the interim chairmanship of Mr. D.P. Tikolo also reaffirmed the decision not to send the 43 students abroad, Kaplan ignored the directive and attempted to fly the 43 students out of the country but the attempt was aborted by the Amnesty Office.

But despite the resistance put up by the Office, the statement accused the vendor of going ahead to get the students tickets re-issued after which it took them to the United States.

The statement reads in part:
“The new Special Adviser, Brigadier General Paul Boroh (Rtd) on August 10, 2015 met the Kaplan Team in Abuja where the company said it ignored the directive of the Amnesty Office not to take the students abroad because they were three weeks behind schedule and that the students will start all over again if delayed further. The Amnesty Office which did not want to disrupt the students education despite Kaplan's recalcitrant behavior told the company that it had cash flow challenges which will necessitate some renegotiations and that the costs were prohibitive.

However, Kaplan remained obstinate and uncooperative necessitating the Amnesty Office writing the company a November 23, 2015 letter Reference OSAPND/CAP/COS/KIC/004 titled “UNAUTHORIZED DEPLOYMENT OF 43 PATHWAY STUDENTS OF THE PRESIDENTIAL AMNESTY PROGRAMME TO THE USA BY KAPLAN INTERNATIONAL COLLEGES”.

In the letter, it pointed out that the company “illegally committed government to the expenses and that the invoices the company sent to it “…for payment is outrageous and unacceptable” It queried why Kaplan did not officially communicate to it “…that the 43 students had concluded their Foundation Year in September, 2015 but rather, went ahead to place them in various expensive schools chosen by KAPLAN thereby increasing the financial burden of the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, without budgetary provisions”.

Kaplan in its December 2, 2015 response claimed that with the one year sponsorship letter of the Amnesty Office “Once the students commenced the programme in Lagos, they were already on a programme of study which allowed them to progress to one of the universities within the Consortium of North American Universities providing they met the required academic standard.”

Despite the unhelpful attitude of Kaplan, but concerned about the future of the students, the Amnesty office again tried to find a way out by calling for a March 12, 2016 meeting with the company, but Kaplan unilaterally cancelled the meeting. Given the notice of cancellation, the Amnesty Office on March 11, 2016 wrote Kaplan communicating its position thus:

a) That due to the budgetary constraints of the Amnesty Office, it had no funds to accommodate the 43 Kaplan students;

b) That Kaplan International should bring back to Nigeria all the 43 students , since they were taken overseas contrary to the directive of the Amnesty Office; and

c) That the Amnesty Office will not be responsible for the flight tickets of the said 43 students to Nigeria as it did not authorize their deployment out of Nigeria.

Despite the intransigence of Kaplan and the Amnesty Office's very poor financial situation, but in the overall interest of the 43 students, the Amnesty Office continues to make strenuous efforts to find a solution. The latest was inviting Kaplan to a meeting on April 28, 2016 and asking it to co-operate with us and clean up the mess it created.”

Disclosing why the Amnesty Office cannot afford the special Keplan School fees which he described as unrealistic, unaffordable and un-payable, Lakemfa stated that Kaplan is charging an average N10,262,745.00 per student which comes to a total N496,200,000 for the one year pre-degree programme it carried out, adding that the sum includes its charge of $17,000 per student for a ten-week Bridge Programme in the U.S.

The statement added: “Its fees for the students in the American universities which come to an average of $75,000 each, is more than twice what the Amnesty Office pays for students in the same universities undergoing similar courses. Even the fees of IVY League Schools in US are far cheaper; for instance its leading light, Harvard University charges $43,983.

“Our proposal to Kaplan International is for a 50 percent reduction in payments and fees, and relocating the students and their transcripts to local Nigerian universities on Amnesty Scholarship, while parents who insist their children remain in the US, can take over the payment of such fees.”