Chimenem Mbata is the out-going President of Apara Student Union, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. In this interview with EDITH CHUKU, he spoke on the relationship between the governor, Nyesom Wike and scored him low in the area of bursary payment to students.
The immediate past governor, Chibuike Ameachi to a large extent, was consistent in paying bursary to Rivers state students.
(Cuts in) There is nothing like 'to a large extent.' Let truth be told, Amaechi paid bursary, he supported Rivers State students in their academic pursuit through bursary payment among others.
Why then is Wike not doing same?
Today, we have a government that does not value students. The government of Rivers State does not pay attention to the needs, demands, plea of Rivers state students, as long as issues regarding Rivers students are concerned. The government of today is running an I don care system; he does eyes left when matters pertaining the welfare of Rivers students are brought to his table. For more than three years now, no one has been paid bursary, none.
What efforts did you and your excos make towards this payment?
First, we sent memo, giving the government one week ultimatum; it amounted to a total waste. About five months ago, we went on protest at the Government House for Bursary payment. Instead of listening to us, he sent police men to chase us out of Government House. Since then, nothing has been done about bursary payment,
You will be handing over soon; what happens; you expressed much confidence to ensure bursary payment?
I will direct this to the Rivers State Students president because he and his excos are supposed to channel their strength to this matter. They are the ones that are supposed to look into this matter, virtually, he is doing nothing. Since he was elected till now, nothing has been done, even the bursary issue on ground, he has said nothing about it.
But, forms were given months ago regarding this bursary payment.
Sold not given. Forms were sold, last year. We were told that bursary will soon be paid; they brought forms asking us to pay N1000 each for the form.
Countless of people bought the form, they paid, including myself, till now nothing. They made students pay 1000 each and that was all till now, we have heard nothing about it. They have been telling us the money is coming.
Who initiated that, do you think the governor is aware of it?
You will have to direct that question to my senior boss, the Rivers State Student Union president. They told us, we believed and followed, picked form with N1000 and it ended.
Are you still hopeful that this government might look into bursary?
It can't work, the governor has spent so much. He coughed in so much into the election, he is trying to recover from it, coupled with his plans for this term, which I'm convinced bursary is not included, it's his last time as governor, he will never be governor of Rivers State again, so that cannot be possible. Let's forget bursary in this administration but if it happens, only 10 per cent might receive.
Which means Rivers State Students have benefitted nothing for the past four years of Wike's administration?
Well, infrastructural wise, he has tried, I will never deny facts, he has tried even if he has not done enough. It is not about building structures most times, building a man is better than millions of walls. And he has not done so much in those areas, structures, facilities; he has not done much either, no good structures.
What areas, apart from bursary would you want to draw the governor's attention to?
Scholarship has ended since this government came into power or have you heard that he awarded scholarship to anyone? Some of these violent, wild youths you see today are drop- outs. They are people that could not afford their fees, they've taken to arms. I am not using that as an excuse, neither am I trying to justify the evil they are doing. But if those ones in school were given scholarship or paid bursary, I'm sure they would have been better graduates than wild drop –outs