A Nigerian scholar in Cuba, Kabir Sagir, has cried out bitterly that he is presently stranded after completing his scholarship programme in 2020 as the Nigerian Federal Scholarship Board has failed to pay his stipend.
Cuba is a country in the West Indies and one of the more influential states in the Caribbean region.
Narrating his ordeal to SaharaReporters, Sagir said he received a scholarship to study Medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine, Havana, Cuba and graduated in 2020 but he has not been able to translate his documents and buy his return ticket due to his unpaid stipend.
He said he had called and written to the director of the federal scholarship, Mrs. Ndajiwo H. Asta several times but he was told that the board had forwarded his stipend to the Central Bank of Bank (CBN) for remittance.
Asta also reportedly said she did not know what happened and could not do anything about it.
However, when he contacted the CBN, he was told the bank had not received the money from the board and that if it had received the money but experienced difficulties in remitting it to him, the bank would have returned it to the Federal Ministry of Education.
Sagir, who lamented that he is dying in Cuba, said, “I am Kabir Sagir presently in Cuba. I was awarded a scholarship to study medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine, Havana, Cuba, having succeeded in the tests and exams under the Federal Scholarship Board, Abuja.
“I graduated from the medical school in 2020 but I’m still stranded here. The Federal Scholarship Board refused to send my stipend to enable me to translate my documents and buy a return ticket.
“I have called the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Abuja several times, she said that they have forwarded my stipend to CBN for remittances; that they don’t know what happened; they can’t do anything about it.
“I also called the person in charge of remittances of stipends in the Federal Ministry of Education and according to him, they have sent everything to the CBN. I recently contacted CBN and the person I spoke with in the CBN said that it is not true, that if there is any difficulty in sending the stipend, it should be returned to the Federal Ministry of Education immediately.
“I am dying here in Cuba. I just want to come back home and work for my people. I am a good doctor, who graduated with honours. My GP is 4.”
When SaharaReporters contacted the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Mrs Ndajiwo Asta, for clarifications on Sagir’s complaint, she said the Federal Ministry of Education was in a better position to speak on the matter.
“Kindly note that the FSB is a Department in the Federal Ministry of Education. Kindly send your enquiry addressed to the honourable minister who will direct the relevant department to respond according to the civil service rules. Thank you,” she said.
However, responding to an email SaharaReporters also sent to the Federal Scholarship Board on the same issue, the Board provided a letter dated March 14, 2022, sent to Sagir through the Embassy of Nigeria in Cuba, clarifying that the Board paid his stipends up to September 2020.
The letter with the caption, ‘RE: Complaint of non-receiving monthly stipend a Nigerian scholar’ and signed by the Director of the Board, Mrs. Ndajiwo Asta H, reads, “I wish to acknowledge the receipt of your mail dated 31st December, 2021 with Ref.NEMCU/P/V on the above subject and to inform you that Federal Scholarship Board has paid his stipends up to September 2020 and he has graduated.
“Sequel to the above, the Embassy is advised to contact the Finance Attachee for mandate of the payments for more clarification.
“While thanking you for your usual cooperation, please accept my highest regards.”
SaharaReporters then contacted the Director of Press and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, Ben Bem Goong, for clarifications on the issue but for three days, the mobile phone line did not connect.
A text message was sent to the same phone number but at the time of filing this report, the Director of Press had not replied to the message.