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Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Over 4000 Nigerian students stranded

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Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Over 4000 Nigerian students stranded

Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Over 4000 Nigerian students stranded

Nigerian students in Ukraine say they are confused and feel abandoned by their country amidst the escalating war between Russia and Ukraine. There are over 4,000 Nigerian students studying in Ukraine.

Newsmen reported how Russian forces attacked major Ukrainian cities Thursday morning in what President Vladimir Putin described as a “special military operation.”

Russia says it is targeting military installations in Ukraine but there are fears many civilians have been killed in airstrikes.

Amidst the confusion in Ukraine, Nigerians studying in the Eastern Ukrainian country say they feel let down.

A Nigerian student at Lviv National Medical University, Ukraine, Anjola Philips, told newsmen, on Wednesday, that although the Nigerian embassy was ‘responsive’, students had no information on what to do should a full-blown war ensue.

“We do not know what is happening, we see other nations organising flights for their people. I think it will be good to know if we have a place of convergence, we have no idea and people are asking if they should start returning home.

“The embassy is responsive anytime we reach out to them but it is the same response every time, which leaves me wondering if there are no plans for the worst-case scenario,” Mr Philips, the president of the Nigerian students union in Lviv, said.

He noted that the situation on the ground is one of great uncertainty. “No one knows what is our fate as Nigerian students here. We just get things online and we try to feel the pulse of the school administration and the locals. Lviv is pretty safe, everybody is going about their business…”

“Some days ago, the school sent out information that students could go back to their houses with the exception of students who had professional examinations. We are still trying to get further clarification from the school on why this group is exempted.

“The issue is we do not have any direction from the Nigerian embassy, I reached out to them and was told to keep checking the website for information. They said they will update us with more information if they receive any. The last update on their website was on January 26, asking us to call the embassy in case of emergency,” he said.

Newsmen reported how the Nigerian embassy in Ukraine Thursday released a statement saying Nigerians in Ukraine should essentially defend themselves.

“The embassy urges Nigerian nationals resident in Ukraine to remain calm but be very vigilant and be responsible for their personal security and safety,” the Nigerian Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine said in a statement shared on Twitter by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).

Felix Ogunlade, a recent graduate of Ternopil National Medical University who lives in Kyiv awaiting his medical licence examination, told this newspaper that between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Thursday morning, he heard three explosions go off.

“When I heard the first explosion, I thought I was hallucinating due to the panic and then there were multiple explosions, it sounded like fireworks. I was not sure until my housemates confirmed they heard the same thing.”

Mr Ogunlade noted that as residents were scampering out of their apartments in fear, he tried to find his way out to Lviv or anywhere in the western part of Ukraine which is still safe but there was no means of transportation out of the city.

“There was no Uber or train available this morning when we first checked. But we found a train for tomorrow that had 300 seats when we checked but before we could mobilise other Nigerians and return to the book, it was filled up. This was about 20 to 30-minute interval,” he said.

He said, “some affirmative message or communication (from the Nigerian embassy) would help his confidence at the moment.”

Mr Ogunlade spoke minutes before the statement by the Nigerian embassy.

In Ternopil, a six hours drive from Kyiv (Ukraine’s capital), Jessica Orakpo, president of Nigerian students in Ternopil National Medical University said the embassy “has basically said we are on our own.”

Speaking to newsmen Thursday morning, Ms Orakpo said “we received a letter a few minutes ago asking us to remain calm and before today when the threats started, I called the ambassador and he said he could not ask us to go home but people who wanted to could but he would not be quoted as asking Nigerians to go home.”

According to Ms Orakpo, a lot of Nigerians are now stuck in Ternopil because earlier on when some foreign students were appealing for online learning given the rising tension, the school said it could only do that if the foreign embassies wrote them (school) asking for such for their citizens.

“We reached out to our embassy to put pressure on schools but our embassy said they could not do anything saying they could not help our school make that decision. Now the case has become worse, we cannot travel, most airlines have cancelled flights, the embassy is not saying anything. We are literally fending for ourselves.”

She noted the ambassador said he could only provide relief funds but could not intervene in the school’s decision making.

“India brought their letter but Ghana and Nigeria’s letters were not issued and that was when I called and they said they could not infringe on the decision-making process of our school, that it has never been done.

“And if our school wants that kind of letter from them, our school should write to them. It became a game of diplomacy, nobody wants to take responsibility for asking Nigerians to go home.”

Although Ternopil is relatively safe, the panic in the air is palpable as schools have been shut, residents are panic buying and flights cancelled, she said.

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science in 2020, of the 76548 international students in Ukraine, 4,227 are Nigerians, the fifth-highest international student population.

As world leaders condemned and issued sanctions on Russia, Nigeria has not stated its position and has remained quiet in offering any form of clear advisory to its citizens. The most it had done before the Thursday statement was the January statement asking Nigerians living in Ukraine to take their safety seriously and avoid travels to identified hot spots in Eastern Ukraine.

Newsmen visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja on Wednesday but got no response on what or if there is a plan for Nigerians living in Ukraine.

The ministry was as calm as it could be with different events happening and staffers going about their activities as though the world was at its most peaceful state.

On the same day, newsmen contacted the ministry’s spokesperson, Francisca Omoyuli, she said she could not respond immediately as she was at a two-day event in Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

An official of the ministry who spoke to newsmen in confidence said students who wanted to be evacuated would need to notify the embassy of their intentions to return home adding that the students should also be able to prove the security situation in their location was dire and deserving evacuation.

She added that as of Wednesday, the Nigerian embassy in Kyiv had yet to notify the ministry of any alarming situation or need to evacuate Nigerians.

Residents of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv are trooping out of the capital, moving west in search of safer havens.

India is evacuating its students from Ukraine while U.S., Canada and Australia have evacuated most of their citizens from Ukraine.

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Education

2024 WASSCE Fees: Borno Gov’t Pays Over N500 Million for 25,075 final-year students

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2024 WASSCE Fees: Borno Gov’t Pays Over N500 Million for 25,075 final-year students

By: Our Reporter

Borno State Government has shown its commitment to education equity by disbursing N507,654,000 to cover the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) fees for 25,075 final-year students in public schools across the state.

This was disclosed by Engr. Lawan Abba Wakilbe, Honourable Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation, on Wednesday during the disbursement ceremony at the multipurpose hall of the Quality Assurance Office of the Ministry of Education in Maiduguri.

“Borno State Government has consistently subsidised these examination fees by 75%,” Commissioner Wakilbe said, “and this year’s disbursement is part of that commitment.”

The commissioner emphasised government’s dedication to a level playing field in the school system. “His Excellency, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, Borno State Governor, has fulfilled his promise,” he declared. “Students in both public and private schools can now access their results simultaneously.”

“Borno State Government expressed its sincere gratitude to the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). “We are deeply grateful to WAEC for supporting the state’s resettlement efforts,” Wakilbe said.
“Extending WASSCE examinations to almost all parts of the state has significantly alleviated the challenges faced by our students.”

Meanwhile, the education commissioner commended school principals that adhered too examination ethics and quotas. However, he warned against any malpractice, stating “government will take punitive measures against any school principal that registers students without records or history in the school. While we support genuine ex-students with school records retaking examinations, we oppose the practice of registering external candidates without proper records.”

Wakilbe further elaborated on the negative consequences of this practice, explaining, “This illegal activity leads to issues with student record verification, indiscipline, corruption, and malpractice in public schools, placing a heavy financial burden on the government and straining scarce state resources.”

He went on to say “Furthermore, any principal of a public school whose examination centre is derecognized due to malpractice will be removed from their position.” The Ministry of Education will submit a list of accredited private schools for consideration in the 2025 WASSCE. Borno State Government, under the leadership of Governor Zulum, remains committed to supporting education and ensuring all students have a fair chance at success.

Responding to the commissioner, Mr. Zakari Ya’u Abdullahi, Zonal Coordinator of WAEC, Borno State, confirmed the payment of the funds. “This presentation we are making today signifies that the funds have been paid and are already in the account of West African Examinations Council,” he said.

“By the special grace of God, whenever we finish marking and the results are released, you can be assured that the results for all candidates, both government-sponsored schools and private schools, will be released at the same time.” This aligns with Governor Zulum’s earlier promise of ensuring equal access to results for all students.

The ceremony concluded with a vote of thanks from representatives of the schools and students. Abba Ali Ladan, President of All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), spoke on behalf of the schools, while Ahmad Kyari Ahmad the president of National Union of Borno state Student union NUBOSS delivered a vote of thanks on behalf of the students. They expressed their gratitude to Borno State Government for its continued support of education in the state. 

2024 WASSCE Fees: Borno Gov’t Pays Over N500 Million for 25,075 final-year students

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BOSU: A Fast-Growing State University in Nigeria

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BOSU: A Fast-Growing State University in Nigeria

By: Balami Lazarus. 

State universities are emerging on the educational and academic map of Nigeria to quench the taste of knowledge in order to contribute to nation-building in teaching and learning to improve the standard and quality of education and research, hence quality educational service delivery in their full-baked products, graduates. 

Borno State has suffered the devastating blows of the insurgents, and insecurity challenges are the major concern of the state. However, to address these challenges, the state remains focused on her pursuits for higher education. The government established Borno State University in Maiduguri (B0SU). And recently, NEWSng was invited along with some newsmen by the Information and Public Relations Department of the university, headed by Mr. Garkuwa Mohammed, for a valiant speech and press conference by the outgoing vice chancellor, a fine scholar of repute, Prof. Umar Kyari Sandabe, who has made his mark in Bosu. 

The university was established by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2016 but began her academic activities of teaching and learning on March 7, 2019, focusing on objectives, especially her vision of “to be a first-rate institution anchored on and defined by excellence in teaching, learning, research, and innovation, as well as outstanding service delivery for the growth and development of society.” 

Interestingly, Bosu has good academic infrastructure that speaks volumes within the span of five years of her academic activities from the 17th October 2019/2020 session with thirty academic programs in four facilities, namely: Arts and Education, Social and Management Sciences, and Faculty of Science, with 647 matriculated students in various departments studying for their degree courses. 

The pioneering Vice Chancellor, Prof. Umar Kyari Sandabe, and his management team have made it possible for the university to scale up the needed standard requirements of National Universities Commissions (NUC) accreditation for all the academic courses to fully commence, especially the College of Medical and Health Sciences that was approved last year (2023) to run MBSS, Radiography, Physiotheraphy, Biochemistry, Medical Laboratory Science, and Health Information Management System. 

Prof. Sandabe’s five-year tenure has also made the university a hub of academic activities and an oasis of teaching, learning, research, and innovation, with a harvest of rich lecturers with the core objective of molding and grooming students in character and in learning. 

Every member of the academic section of the university, in her wisdom, meets from time to time with staff and the student body with the aim of maintaining a standard of academic excellence, discipline, and a good moral standard. Therefore, Bosu, as a community, has a tight security system in place. NEWSng observed that everyone is security conscious, with ears and eyes to the ground. 

The university has achieved what some universities, both state and federal, could not achieve in terms of academic programs and infrastructure—some completed, some ongoing. The College of Medical and Health Sciences, Mechanical Workshop, Entrepreneurship Center, and Mass Communication Studio were all completed. NEWSng was among the team of journalists for the on-the-spot assessment of these academic facilities. 

The secret to and beauty of Borno State University Maiduguri lies “in her mission and the progressive-minded management team under the leadership of Prof. Umar Kyari Sandabe,” said one staff member. Her mission is “to serve as an institution for intellectual development whose ideals are to train men and women to acquire appropriate skills, abilities, and competence, both mental and physical, as well as inculcating the right type of values and attitudes for the well-being of society in general.”. 

Therefore, the mission is clearly expressed and captured in her Moto, written in Arabic as “Al-ilmu laisa lahu hudud,” translated as knowledge has no boundaries. This is why Bosu was able to spread, register, and announce her presence among her finely baked graduates, who came from various states of the federation. 

Impressively, Bosu has established academic relationships and partnerships with some universities, both home and abroad, such as the University of Lagos, the University of Ibadan, the Obafemi Awolowo University of Ife, and the University of Maidugur. Across the shores are the Alliance of Islamic Universities of Africa in Pakistan and the State University of Bangladesh. We are facilitating with the recently appointed acting vice chancellor, Prof. Haruna Dantoro Dlakwa.

BOSU: A Fast-Growing State University in Nigeria

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Al Ansar University Maiduguri: An opinion in the contrary

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Al Ansar University Maiduguri: An opinion in the contrary

By Balami Lazarus.

Universities are centers of teaching, learning, and research to improve the quality of life for human capital growth and development.

However, while it should be acknowledged by those standards, many people, particularly in Nigeria, are taking a religious perspective to fill the gap in their opinion of certain universities across the country.

NEWSng was in Maiduguri recently and took time to visit some higher institutions, particularly Al Ansar University, the first private institution in the state. The discovery was touching, contrary to some opinions in the state.

Speaking of universities in Maidtguri, Al Ansar University is seen and wrongly referred to as an Islamic university by measure and standard, but this is not the case with Al Ansar University.

Al Ansar is Arabic, translated simply as the”helpers” or “those who bring victory.” But the view, opinion, or impression of the people is rather lacking in the meaning of the Arabic words.

NEWSNG, as usual, made an attempt to reveal the truth about this conventional university of universal standards in character, teaching, learning, research, and academic pursuits, where it recently offered admission to some selected brilliant students on full scholarship from the Borno State Government courtesy of His Excellency Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, the Executive Governor of the State.

Speaking on the university, the Vice Chancellor, a respected scholar and university administrator, Prof. Abubakar Musa Kundiri, said that the wrong opinions expressed about the university by members of the public did not actually represent the truth about the institution.

“We are not as the members of the public see and consider us. Al Ansar is like any other conventional university running accredited academic programs you might think of. I think people should not judge a book by its cover.” He said.

Al Ansar University Maiduguri: An opinion in the contrary

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