About 80 participants in the foreign training component of the Delta State Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) are now living under constant threats of deportation from their current base in Barbados for disclosing their poor living conditions and other details to SaharaReporters.
The trainees were airlifted from Nigeria in December 2014 by the Delta State Government with the promise that they would attend various trainings in Agriculture, Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts at different location in Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, both in the West Indies. But following rife allegations of poor treatment and neglect the trainees had spoken to SaharaReporters in the hope that their government would act in their favour.
They had described the programme as the “highest scam so far in Delta State” and also pointed accusing fingers at the Governor, his Deputy Prof. Amos Utuama, Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Hope Eghagha and one Ms. Donna St. Hill, a Barbadian, for conniving to syphon State resources under the guise of training and empowering the youths of Delta State.
The action of the trainees and the weighty disclosures reportedly angered the Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan who was said to have ordered the immediate commencement of deportation processes and termination of the programme. The Governor’s order was personally served on the trainees by the Deputy Governor who travelled to Barbados to meet the youthful Deltans.
From their base in Barbados, one of the trainees who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal told SaharaReporters, “In the past weeks we have received several notices informing us to prepare for our deportation…we must continue to let Deltans, Nigerians and the whole world to know that the so called government youth program is nothing but the highest scam so far in Delta State. Can you imagine the Deputy Governor, Utuama can take a flight to Barbados just to issue us deportation threats? The program is nothing but a scam.”
Meanwhile, SaharaReporters has obtained a letter to the trainees from the Delta State Government. Titled ‘Delta State Youth Empowerment Programme: Notice of Suspension’ and signed by Ataine Paul on behalf of the Commissioner for Higher Education, the letter reads:
“I have been directed to inform you, our trainees in Barbados, that in view of the challenges which you currently face on welfare, the admissions process, coupled with certain acts of rudeness exhibited by some of you, Government has decided to suspend the Barbados end of the programme.
“Consequent upon this, it is the decision of Government to bring you our TRAINEES BACK FOR NOW. This is to enable us review the process all over again with a view to sending those who qualify, back to Barbados after the exercise. It will equally afford Government time to address all the identified challenges.
“I am further directed to urge you all to be calm and peaceful, for no good thing in life comes easily. All inconveniences are highly regretted. Thanks and God bless you all. Amen.”
Among other grievances, the trainees had complained of being housed in a poor hotel accommodation in “a hurricane prone location as against the earlier procured place at Infinity Hotel we were supposed to stay,” food poisoning, and lack of water to bath. They had written and sent a ‘Save Our Soul’ to the Delta State Government but got no response.
Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Hope Eghagha said his ministry is in charge of the programme but dismissed allegations that it was a scam. He, however, admitted knowing that the trainees were having some accommodation challenges in Barbados.