An advocacy group, the Act For Positive Transformation Initiative, has condemned the refusal to pay the allowances of Nigerian students and scholars in foreign countries who are beneficiaries of the scholarship programmes of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Two days ago, Nigerian students who are beneficiaries of the NDDC scholarships, staged a peaceful protest at the Nigeria High Commission in the United Kingdom over the non-payment of their tuition and living expenses by NDDC.
About 94 of the scholars had been demanding the payment of their two-year allowances from the NDDC management.
A statement from Act For Positive Transformation Initiative, issued by its head, Directorate of Research, Strategy and Programme, Kolawole Johnson, said the circumstances surrounding the payment of the NDDC scholars were unfortunate.
The group said that the officials of the NDDC had become notorious in the act of plundering the resources of the people, pointing out that the present management of NDDC under the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has mismanaged funds meant to develop the region.
Read the full statement below:
"The commission had last week released a statement attributing the delay in payment to verification of scholars' claims the Acting Director of Projects, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, went to London to carry out in September. This is very untrue.
"Dr Cairo went to London for medical attention on his ailing eyes; he never stopped by at any school for verification exercise. We may release further details if the commission attempts to deny this in its usual practice.
"We also hope the Ag EDP has not deceived the commission to sponsor his trip in disguise.
"Asides sheer wickedness, gross irresponsibility and incompetence cum corruption, no genuine reason can be attributed to the non-payment of the scholars.
"While it has refused to pay genuine claims, the interim management of the NDDC has never stopped indulging in all manners of frivolous payments for dubious and non-existing contracts in its unrelenting quest to scavenge the commission's resources. This is the same management that paid itself a scholarship fund without any scholarship award.
"Despite its weak and incoherent denial, our team has supplied necessary details to support the revelation.
"Some management staff have also made refunds of this illegal and fraudulent self-scholarship payment to an anti-corruption agency.
"For the avoidance of doubts, below are some of the details of beneficiaries of the said fraudulent scholarship largesse.
"Prof Pondei – 5,650,000 – UBA – 1002290165, Dr Cairo Ojougboh – 5,650,000 – ZENITH – 1002428409, Ibanga Etang Bassey – 5,198,000 – FCMB – 0316998016, Bernard Mikko – 5,198 – ACCESS – 0022954307, Zuofa Charles – 5,198,000 – GTB – 0108702878. Others are: Luke Ibanga Benedict – 3,758,000 – FIDELITY – 5330649139, Henry Efiong – 3,524,000 – FIRST BANK – 2025313158, Bowoto Fola – 3,524,000 – UNION BANK – 0043953627, Madume Chinyere – 3,524,000 – FIDELITY – 5330753539, Irene Okezie Enyioma – 3,524,000 – UNION BANK – 0023926018, Patience N. Ezugu – 3,524,000 – STANBIC – 0021151216 (Proxy), Oleka Nwanchukwu Amara – 3,524,000 – FIDELITY – 5331151857, Edgar Okpozo – 3,524,000 – FIRST BANK – 2023926198, Umezurike Anthony – 3,524,000 – UNION BANK – 0012443050 and Thompson Seledi Wakama – 3,524,000 – FCMB – 0172633018.
"The above was meant to be the first tranche as the management had planned to pay themselves more in three instalments but for the cover that was blown open by our team.
"The management attempted to deny this shameful fraud, the description/purpose of payments on official documents and bank transactions read 2020 NDDC FOREIGN POSTGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP. Though the sum involved in this is probably inconsequential considering the tens of billions they have plundered within the last one year, it is, however, enough to sack and prosecute the utterly corrupt management, if the government is serious about fighting corruption.
"As we speak the management is presently processing and backdating fake contracts worth over Seven (7) Billion Naira for payment. Our team is, however, keeping a tab to ensure this is exposed to the public, especially now that it appears the Presidency and the National Assembly have become abettors in the ongoing putrefaction in the commission.
"The government of President Muhammadu Buhari should be condemned for allowing the vicious skullduggery and brazen corruption ongoing in the commission while genuine claim as the scholars' demand is daily ignored."