Ben Bruce, senator representing Bayelsa east, says it is unfair for President Muhammadu Buhari to ban forex for Nigerian students schooling abroad, while his own children are benefiting from it.
During an interview with Al Jazeera last week, the president said Nigeria could no longer afford giving forex to Nigerians schooling abroad due to falling foreign exchange reserves.
“Those who can afford foreign education for their children can go ahead but Nigeria cannot afford to allocate foreign exchange for those who decided to train their children outside the country,” he had said.
“We can’t just afford it. That is just the true situation.” But reacting, Bruce, who has been very critical of the current administration, said the president ought to be sensitive about the needs of the people.
“It’s awkward for a leader to say no ??forex for education for our kids schooling abroad when his own kids school abroad!” he wrote on Facebook. “Mr. President, these are people who voted for you. You ought to be more sensitive about their need for forex for education.”
“This year all tiers of government, including the presidency, will spend billions importing cars. If we can afford that, can’t we afford forex for education.
“What do we expect parents whose kids have spent 2 years in schools abroad? Should their kids drop out after going so far? “It’s not a matter of those who can afford it. The parents aren’t saying they can’t afford it. They’re saying they can’t get forex for education.”
Bruce said though he believes in investing in the country to strengthen the naira, the case at hand is exceptional. He argued that if the government could provide forex for those going on pilgrimage, there should be no reason why it should deny those schooling abroad.
“I am an advocate for ?#?BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira but I accept that there are some courses that we don’t offer forex for education,” he said.
“If we can provide foreign exchange to those going on pilgrimage, surely we can provide forex for education. Education is a priority!
“These policies will have the opposite effect of what you intend. Nigerians will take their funds to neighboring nations. We as elected representatives of the people must be sensitive to their needs and reflect this sensitivity in policies.”