One year after, NUC yet to pay LEADS scholars’ stipend
One year after the Linking Experts and Academics in the Diaspora Scheme (LEADS) scholars at the National Universities Commission (NUC) commenced service in Nigeria, they are yet to be paid any stipend.
The LEADS scholars are Nigerian professors who are experts in different fields abroad, and brought back to Nigeria to strengthen teaching in the university system.
They are captured under the programme which commenced several years back, but seems to have run into troubled waters since January 2016 when the NUC could not pay the monthly stipends of the engaged scholars.
Scholars who have been engaged since January are yet to receive payments.
Professor Chinedu Ahaiwe, who has been at the University of Abuja since January, told The Guardian that the experience has been harrowing. “Owing us since January has left us unable to fulfill many obligations”, he said.
He also described the situation as embarassing. He expressed disappointment at NUC’s inability to pay scholars who were brought in from outside the country, one year running.
Investigation by The Guardian revealed that the NUC had an agreement to pay each scholar $2,500 per month among other benefits. While some have returned abroad after some months of being owed, those who are still within the programme daily push for their payment without success.
All efforts to get the new Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, to effect the payment has not yielded any result. Also, a petition sent to the Presidency is yet to yeild the desired result.
Though Rasheed had promised to take steps to resolve the matter and get back to The Guardian since October, all efforts to reach him proved abortive. Calls placed to his phone since then were not answered and text messages were not responded to.
However, The Guardian learnt that the Presidency had started investigating the matter.
An inside source informed that the last time NUC paid the LEADS scholars was in December 2015. The source added that the commission has not been able to pay since then because it lacked funds. Some other programmes such as training of university lecturers abroad have also been halted over lack of funds.