Barbados scam: Delta govt terminates beneficiaries’ training

Stranded beneficiaries of the controversial Delta State Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) programme, initiated by former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan are to return to the country without completing their programmes.
The Nigerian Times learnt that the new government in the state is not interested in shouldering the burden of the scandal-ridden programme and is therefore arranging for the return of the 120 young persons from the islands of Trinidad and Barbados where they were sent to last December for the training.
Though the Uduaghan administration claimed that it was spending at least N500m each year on bursary, the beneficiaries who protested the poor living condition they were subjected to in Trinidad and Tobago were ordered to be ‘deported’ by the then governor.
But the governor who then defended his government through the erstwhile Commissioner for Education, Hope Eghagha, denied that the exercise was a scam, but agreed that the students were having some accommodation challenges.
However, the hope of the students that the current government would revamp the programme and assist them in completing the training was dashed today when the government said it was preparing the decaying vocational schools in the state pending when the stranded students would return to continue their training in the state.
The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr Chiedu Ebie, who spoke on Wednesday, noted that instead of allowing the students to remain stranded, the state has agreed to airlift them back home.
He added that the state government has given approval for the revival of three technical colleges to accommodate them and bring back the little experience they have garnered from their sojourn in a foreign land.
Ebie posited that out of the six technical colleges in the state , three would be revived and upgraded to accommodate the returnees.
The students had while protesting the neglect of the state government under Uduaghan, claimed that the then Deputy Governor, Amos Utuama, under whose purview the programme fell, was using his alleged mistress, a Barbadian identified as Ms. Donna St. Hill, to siphon the funds meant for the programme.
“Information made available to us reveals that the budget for the program was slashed with the extra funds pocketed by Delta State deputy governor, Prof. Amos Utuama, Ms. Donna St. Hill, and some individuals. This has affected our accommodation and feeding,” one of the students alleged at the time.
Ms. Donna was said to have booked accommodation for the beneficiaries in a substandard hotel known as Casa Grande Hotel located, allegedly in a hurricane-prone location, against the earlier-procured Infinity Hotel that the accommodation funds were released for.
But Utuamad denied the allegation, describing the report as spurious, false and baseless.
“The Ministry of Education runs the programme in conjunction with a Consultant. I have never been to Barbados and I don’t sign any cheque in respect of the programme.
“I also categorically deny the allegation that Ms Donna St. Hill is my mistress or that I am in an inappropriate relationship with her’’, the erstwhile Deputy Governor had said.


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