October 2017, the UK Telegraph reported an impending deportation of more than 100 Nigerian students studying in the UK on scholarships because their funding had been withdrawn by their sponsoring state government. It was reported some of the affected students had been notified they will not receive their degree certification – even though they have completed their courses in the last academic year.
The demonstration of some Nigerian students studying in the UK on Monday, November 6, 2017, at The Chatham House gave credence to the story.
The students ambushed the Rivers State Governor who ironically just finished addressing the Chatham House on the topic “Defining Development for Rivers State and Steps to Sustainable Implementation” which was a sharp contrast to the cries of the demonstrators.
Governor Wike was in his usual self and rather than pacifying them, He chose to react angrily saying “You think if you do this you will win anybody over? I have passed this stage. By the time you do this, you won’t get what you want.”
The conduct of the Governor to say the least is unexpected of any human, less coming from someone holding an exalted Position of a Governor. His reaction betrayed the hope and trust these students had in him to take them out of their predicament. The Governor’s choice of words when dissected conveys anger and bitterness towards the students.
He chose to address them as members of the opposition party rather than his citizens. The words, “I have passed this stage, by the time you do this, you won’t get what you want” was a wrong answer to a group of students whose future is endangered for no fault of theirs.
It’s on record that these students have written countless letters to the state government which they’ve failed to get a response to. Meeting the Governor at the Chatham House was a last-ditch attempt to gain the governor’s attention publicly if he wouldn’t address them privately.
If these students had carried the placards to sing the Governor’s praise he would have embraced them like a typical Nigerian politician, taking countless pictures and pushing them to the front page of newspapers back home or may even go as far as erecting a billboard with the picture as a campaign tool.
Wike should have reacted to the protest the same way he would have reacted if they were praise singers. The future of these students is being threatened and could be salvaged by no one other than Governor Nyesom Wike.