By Olawunmi Ashafa
The National Union of Lagos State Students (NULASS) has appealed to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to pay all outstanding bursary and scholarship arrears of over N543 million being owed its members.
Its National President, Miss Basirat Okoya, made the plea on behalf of the students on Thursday in Lagos.
Okoya said that students of the state origin in tertiary institutions across the country were being owed the amount for the 2018/2019 academic year.
According to her, it remained an embarrassment that Lagos State, which is endowed with sufficient financial resources and a centre of excellence, is struggling to meet up with its financial commitments to deserving students.
She said that the union was satisfied with the acknowledgement and response of Gov. Sanwo-Olu to a letter of appeal submitted to his office on June 13, 2019.
Okoya said that there was need for the governor to match his words with action.
‘‘As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words.
“But to live by them and can only plead that the finishing touches, which is approval and disbursement of the needed funds, be fast-tracked.
“Lagos State is a blessed state, and we believe that the state should have more than enough to conveniently pay our bursaries and scholarships,” Okoya said in a statement.
She explained that the total number of beneficiaries stands at 10, 585 students, amounting to N688.4 million out of which only N145.72 million was paid to 2,106 students as at Feb.14, 2019.
Okoya said that the figure left the state government with an arrears of N542.68 million for the 8, 479 remaining beneficiaries.
“So far, this administration has started on the right track by placing premium on infrastructure, especially road rehabilitation, security, youths empowerment, amongst others.
“However, as much as we appreciate the premium being placed on security of the citizens, we believe it is equally fair to place priority on youths who are law abiding and innocent in order to dissuade them from crimes.
“This money might be stipends to some people, it is what others depend on to complete their studies, because depriving them of same will be counter-productive.
“These funds have gone a long way in keeping lots of indigent students away from crimes.
“It’s one of the social security that we use as a reference point for those who regard Lagos as a `No Man’s’ land,” she said.