Feature Article of Sunday, 3 February 2013
Columnist: Abdul-Kabir, Lamin
Rejoinder:GETFund Abandons Ghanaian Students Abroad?
I want to appeal to you for little space in your widely read newspaper to write a rejoinder on an issue published in your Monday, January 21st 2013 edition, with the affore-mentioned heading, not only is the issue raised dear to my heart, but concerns my very existence .Before proceeding, I believe it is necessary for me to introduce myself so as to cast away any doubts as to the authenticity or otherwise of this article.I am Lamin Abdul-Kabir,a fourth year student of health Administration and economics under Ghana government scholarship,I am also currently the president of the Ghanaian students’ union here in Cuba.
Obviously, the issue of delayance in the payment of stipends to Ghanaian students abroad, I believe have already been raised many a time in the Ghanaian media albeit with so many contradictions and ambiguities ,nonetheless, it is necessary if not obligatory on our part to for the first time,concientise the good people of Mother Ghana of the extent to which our plight have worsened since we set foot on this island (Cuba).The purpose of this article is not to accuse anybody,but to set the record straight,especially after a minister designate made some ignorant statements when he was being vetted about the current condition in which Ghanaian Students abroad find themselves,especially those of us in Cuba.
The situation in which we are now is exaclty opposite what the Honourable Minister Designate stated to the vetting committee,contrary to the perception that we are sending monies home(Ghana),our monthly stipends ,on which we depend for survival have been unduely delayed(for it is never in time) for almost five(5)months,its difficult to pinpoint where the problem lies,whether its the scholarship secretariat(scholsec),The Government of Ghana(GoG) or the Ghana Embassy in Cuba(for none of these three institutions is truthul to us).On the 17th of December 2012,I called the registrar of Scholsec and he told me that our monies had been deposited in their account and that in a matter of days,it will transfered to us here in Cuba,this assertion was later confirmed by the embassy,but after a more than a month later,a man who was suppossed to know better is now claiming that the money had just been approved by the finance ministry .The only conclusion one can draw from this is that the entire Government structure has taken us for a big ride.It is so heartbreaking to come to terms with the fact that the same Administration,which only about a year ago dispatched 250 young patriots to cuba will sit back and watch these same students and other continuing ones go hungry and helpless.I have had peronal conversations with most of my colleague students and i am embarrassed as to the situation in which we are now.Some students have to borrow monies in order to pay overdue debts because of intense pressure from the debtors,many now cannot study at night because of hunger,infact,we even have a case where one of us fainted out of starvation and had to be carried to the school by pedestrians.These are real events and clearly contradict the assertions made by Hon.Lipkalimor.Basic neccessities like soap,cream and toothpaste are now luxuries to us.It is also neccessary to for the minister to crosscheck with the embassies,especially the havana mission to ask them why they decided in 2010 never to use thier funds to pay us whenever our monies delay.
It is also imperative that all the institutions involved in the awarding scholarships find a way to put a stop to this problem,almost everytime the stipends are due,we the students have to make calls to many offices in Ghana before the monies are approved,thisis because we are still using the same structure we have since indepence,we continue to be under the Office of the President and not under the Education Ministry.This explains why our stipends are never included in the annual financial statement of the Government(Budget),therefore,whenever our burseries are due,it will have to be sourced from the office of the president.We shall in due course present a comprehensive policy statement of NUGS-CUBA as to how we want the entire scholarship structure of our country to be reformed to meet current exigencies especially with regards to giving voice to all the student union branches we have outside our dear country.For it is we the victims of the actions and inactions of the government who are in the right position to determine how issues concerning our welfare should be handled.
There is a limit to human endurance,we have remained very disciplined,peaceful and non-violent until now and we hope the powers that be will help us remain as such,Bantu Steve Biko tells us that ground for revolution is always fertile in the prescence of absolute destitution,we have never done anything to jeopardise the well being of our local government(Ghana embassy) here, but we are now being obliged to question old methods and combine them with more militant and realistic ones.There is yet time to dialogue with the government and see to it that we are treated as human beings in the abscence of which we shall in the words of Macolm X resort to any means neccessary to press home our demands......to be continued
Lamin Abdul-Kabir Abdul-Aziz Mahama
President,NUGS-Cuba General Secretary