Presidential Amnesty Programme: GUU students disrupt academic activities over non-payment of stipends

Students on the scholarship of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) at the Gregory University, Uturu (GUU) in Abia, called PAP delegates, on Monday embarked on a protest to demand the payment of their stipend and other benefits.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protest disrupted academic activities in the institution.
The spokesmen for the protesters, Timipreye Eziama and Godsave Dudieghe, told newsmen that the action was meant to draw Federal Government’s attention to the plight of the delegates.
They said that the Presidental Amnesty Office, headed by Prof. Charles Dokubo, had only paid 41 of the 189 delegates in the university since 2017 to date.
They said that each student ought to be paid N970,000 stipend for the period, in addition to books and a laptop from the amnesty office.
They said that they had sent a delegation of their leaders, with their complaints in a formal letter, to the amnesty office to no avail.
They expressed worry over the alleged claim by the amnesty office that only the 41 students had so far been cleared to receive stipends, hence their resolve to embark on the protest.
They said that the delegates were also told that only delegates that had their ‘UN Code’ were qualified to be paid the stipend.
They faulted the claim by the amnesty office, saying that their names were duly submitted to the office by their Niger Delta leaders.
They also said that they wrote and passed the pre-qualification examination and that their names were properly forwarded to GUU for admission on scholarship.
The delegates expressed worry that aside from the non-payment of the stipends, they had yet to get their books and laptops from the amnesty office.
They said that the development had made life unbearable for them, adding that it had become increasingly difficult for them to feed and meet other personal needs on campus.
They appealed for federal government’s quick intervention to stop what they called “selective payment” of the stipend to the delegates.
Reacting to the development, the Vice Chancellor (VC) of GUU, Prof. Augustine Uwakwe, described the protest as unfortunate and unprecedented in the history of the university.
Uwakwe said that the action, which started at about 7 am, disrupted academic activities, including the mock examination by medical students.
He said that although the action initially started peacefully, it later assumed a wild dimension, until he personally intervened.
“The demonstration started as peaceful action but went beyond that. They locked out the management staff and also locked the VC’s Office,” he said.
He said that the protesters also locked the entrance gates to the palace of the Traditional Ruler of Amokwe Achara Uturu, Eze Cyril Ibe, and Chancellor’s Lodge.
He also said that they forced their way into the cafeteria, where they allegedly drank all the available drinks and broke the bottles in the place.
The VC said that he quickly reported the incident to the amnesty office and was assured that immediate steps would be taken to ensure that the protesters were paid.
He said that the students might have acted out of the fear that the university authorities might not allow them to write the semester examination, since their tuition fees had not been paid.
Uwakwe said that the amnesty office had yet to pay any money to the institution, including tuition and accommodation fees, since the inception of the programme in 2017.
He commended the Federal Government for the amnesty initiative to enthrone peace in the Niger Delta region but urged the amnesty office to ensure “prompt service delivery.” (NAN)