By George Onah
No fewer than 94 physically challenged students of Rivers State origin in various tertiary institutions across the country have been offered scholarship, following which the students were presented with a cheque of N500, 000 each.
But the presentation of the cheques was nearly marred by officials of the National Union of Rivers State Students of both the state University of Science and Technology, RSUST, and University of Port Harcourt.
While the students union officials in RSUST succeeded in disrupting the issuing of the cheques, after three of the disabled students had received theirs, those of Uniport failed in their bid to stop the exercise.
The union officials, who thronged the venue of the ceremony demanded ten percent of the amount being disbursed to each of the students. However, they refused to accept the explanation that the money was not bursary but scholarship for the naturally challenged students.
Chairman of the state scholarship board, Dr. Elechi Amadi, and other members who were at the amphitheatre of the institution tried in vain in explaining to the protesting studentsâ€™ officials that the exercise was basically for the physically challenged.
Disappointed by the insistence of the officials who ordered the chairman represented by Dr. Sam Wodi out of the hall, the scholarship board members simply wound up their sitting and told the unsuccessful ones to show up at the state secretariat next week for their money.
At Uniport, the Public Reltations Officer (PRO) of the institution, Dr. Williams Wodi gave the matching orders to the NURSS officials, threatening to invite the schoolâ€™s security outfit to deal with them if they attempted to disrupt the programme.
The lily-livered officials and a group of Rivers Students, who chickened out at the threat, had gone to the venue to demand for 10 percent as well as requested to be included in the largesse for the physically challenged.
Prof. Benard Ifeaweri, DVC (academics), presented the cheques to four students there, telling them that the money was not for frivolities and praised the state government for the gesture, â€œwhich would spur the students to reading hardâ€.
Also, Dr Wodi advised the beneficiaries to â€œmake good use of the moneyâ€ which he said was due to the magnanimity of Governor Chibuike Amaechi, stating that the amount was for one academic year and would be given to them annually till the end of their course of study.