179 students of Uasin Gishu County including Mercy Tarus on September 18, penned a letter to President William Ruto pleading with him to intervene in the Finland and Canada academic airlift scam.
The students wrote to the president seeking his intervention to hasten the refund of their money by the Uasin Gishu County Government.
“Mr. President, we seek and urge your swift intervention to ensure that the County Government of Uasin Gishu refunds money to the students,” part of the letter read.
“Mr. President, we are students who have fallen victim to lies and conmanship of the Uasin Gishu County Government,” they wrote.
The students had paid money in 2022 with the hope of flying abroad to further their studies in Canada and Finland.
” Your Excellency, Uasin Gishu County government officials led by Mr. Mandago, Mr. Chelilim and Mr. Barorot constantly lie to us,” they lamented.
On August 16, Mandago and his co-accused Joshua Lelei and Meshack Rono were arrested over the mismanagement of Ksh1.1 billion Finland and Canada scholarships. They were released on a Ksh2 million bond on August 17.
Additionally, the students accused the county government officials of lying in public about sorting the issues and threatening the most vocal student.
Mercy Tarus outburst
One of the students who shot to the limelight was Mercy Tarus after she lectured Senator Mandago and other leaders.
She narrated how she graduated from Kabarak University but worked as a hairdresser and sold porridge to make ends meet.
“Parents trusted the county leadership but then when it reached time for accountability, they decided they are now not going to be involved with this program,” Mercy lamented.
Additionally, the letter clarified that the initial 22 students and the subsequent cohort of 24 students who travelled to Finland were not part of them.
In August during the Devolution Conference, Ruto warned those behind the scandal and ordered them to refund the money. It was after his order that the police arrested Senator Mandago.
“I know there is a problem with the Finland education plan where the contributed money has not been well accounted for. Anyone who was involved and has interfered with the money must be ready to pay,” President Ruto told the residents.
In his speech, Ruto assured the students that the government would look into ways of addressing the matter including securing fresh scholarships. However, the students revealed that nothing had happened.
“We have lost a lot of money and find ourselves in a position that we are unable to take these scholarships due to our parents falling ill needing our care and going on medication ourselves to deal with our depression.”