NIGERIAN STUDENTS AT DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY, UK, RISK DEPORTATION DUE TO CBN FORM A DELAY
- CBN should urgently allocate forex to Nigerian Banks to treat all pending Form A applications for international Students faced with this crisis.
- President Buhari’s maladministration is responsible for Nigerians fleeing the Country.
Authorities of De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, Britain, recently issued letters to some international students, many of whom are Nigerians, banning them from the University and temporarily withdrawing sponsorship of their visas for failure to pay tuition fees. A follow up letter was sent giving 9th of March as the ultimatum date for payment, after which visas would be revoked. Following the expiration of the ultimatum, students have received email messages saying they have been “dismissed’ from their course at DMU and the university would inform the British Home Office (interior ministry) to revoke their visas.
Expectedly, this development has put the affected students in dire straits many of whom are faced with the challenge of their CBN Form A applications being held down for months. For the past 9 months, Nigerian students studying abroad have experienced protracted delays in getting forex approved for payment of school fees.
The response usually tendered by the commercial banks in Nigeria suggests a dwindling quantity of forex allocated to them which cannot cater for the increased number of applications they are beginning to witness.
While presented with the excuse of forex scarcity, we are also not oblivious of the fact that political office holders in Nigeria are competitors for the so-called scarce forex available. This has become evident in recent times whereby ‘hard’ currencies are now deployed for vote-buying during electioneering. Also, from time immemorial, political office holders in Nigeria have been known for stashing their loots in hard currencies which is more lucrative for them given the steady decline in the value of the Naira.
From feelers gathered, government officials seem to be playing a conspiratorial role in perpetuating the delay in getting the Form A application approved as a cynical means of slowing down the “Japa” phenomenon. In October 2022, Ibikunle Amosun, ex Governor of Ogun State, labelled countries granting visas to Nigerian youths as wicked. Also, President Buhari in an interview with Al-Jazeera in March 2016 was quoted to have said that Nigeria was no longer ready to keep allocating forex to those who have decided to study abroad and that his children study abroad because he can afford it.
The fact that it is now much easier to access Personal Travelling Allowance (PTA) than educational fees despite passing through the same Form A of the Trade Monitoring System portal, attests to our suspicion of conspiracy against Nigerian students studying abroad by the ruling political elites and their collaborators in the CBN. It is general knowledge that PTA which is meant for vacations, visits, medical appointments and other purposes which are clearly luxurious will mostly serve the interests of the rich few in the country including the political elites and their cronies.
On the other hand, we have an increasing number of Nigerians who are constantly parting with their life savings to seek education in countries like the UK but are faced with this hurdle of delay in paying their tuition fees in a bid to access forex at the official rate. The majority of them cannot afford the black market rate which sells for almost double the official rate. The 20-hour work restriction on the student visa also makes it clearly impossible for them to earn sufficient wages that can cater for their tuition and living costs while studying. Faced with this dilemma like those of DMU, the students are left with no choice than to wait endlessly on the CBN Form A process.
Sadly, the authorities of DMU are not willing to entertain the excuse of the Form A delay and have vowed to report the students to the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). On the heels of this a huge number of Nigerian students in DMU are likely to lose their visas despite having paid some tranches of the tuition fees totaling more than 50%, considering the university’s policy on payment of minimum 50% of tuition fees before enrolment.
The ineptitude of the Central Bank of Nigeria headed by Godwin Emefiele is causing Nigerian students abroad this harrowing experience similar to the way the policy of Naira re-design has imposed untoward suffering on the mass of Nigerians at home. We have it on good authority that a Nigerian student of DMU allegedly committed suicide after receiving the aforementioned letter from the authorities. This shows how desperate the situation is. We hereby call on the CBN to immediately allocate forex to Banks with a standing order to treat all Form A tuition fee applications for affected students of DMU and all affected Nigerian students in diaspora at large.
We also call on the Nigerian government to stop punishing students and citizens for seeking education and greener pasture outside the shores of the country. Business Day on August 26th, 2022 reported a 223% surge in student visas granted by UK to Nigerians as compared with same period in 2021. The desperation of thousands of Nigerians to flee the country is clearly a reflection of the failure of President Buhari’s administration which has perpetrated a collapse in public education alongside the debilitating living conditions of Nigerians at large within its 8-year rule. Thousands of Nigerians have resorted to resigning from their workplaces and selling off their assets in a bid to relocate and ‘escape’ the Nigerian situation which portends an uncertain future for them and their children.
The alternative to the “Japa” phenomenon is not by attempting to throw a spanner in the works for Nigerians planning to relocate or tagging the countries receiving the immigrants as callous. A total turnaround in the living conditions of Nigerians through improved funding in the education sector, health, transportation et al is a first step towards showing Nigerians a ray of hope.
Unfortunately, Buhari-APC led capitalist government like its predecessors does not have the capacity to transform the lives of Nigerians, hence the need for the working masses of Nigeria to begin to organise towards building a genuine political alternative that can utilise the enormous resources of the country to cater for the needs for all through collective ownership of the key sectors of the economy and their democratic control and management.