Government should have been involved in the project to bring Nigerians to Barbados to study from the very outset.
That, David Comissiong argued, was what the Commission for Pan-African Affairs was established for in the first place.
He made the comments today, a day after Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner said Government would intervene to help resolve the issues surrounding what the 90 Nigerian students said was unsatisfactory accommodation at the Casa Grande Hotel.
She said while she could not speak to what happened at the hotel, Government would have to “take greater interest in such initiatives going forward”.
Comissiong said something was “fundamentally wrong” when the initiative to bring the Nigerians here goes awry over inadequate accommodation.
“It is part of the mandate of the Commission for Pan-African Affairs to be involved in projects of this nature. So for a project of this nature to be undertaken in Barbados and the Commission for Pan-African Affairs to be not involved says something is fundamentally wrong in how the Government is functioning. I say so as a former Director of the Commission,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Some of the Nigerians have said they want to go back home, while others have indicated they would be satisified with improved accommodation.
They had been expecting to stay at Infinity on the Beach Hotel, but were subsequently told that the hotel was full and they would instead be staying at Casa Grande Hotel.
Comissiong told Barbados TODAY that local Pan-Africanists have been making enquiries to find alternative accommodation for the students who are expected to be in the island for the next nine months.
He also reported that, in his capacity as chairman of the Caribbean Pan-African Network, he had been in contact with members in Trinidad and Tobago on the matter.
“They will be further taking up the matter with the Nigerian community and the authorities in Trinidad. So we are making every effort that we can to be of assistance and to help salvage this very laudable and progressive project,” Comissiong said.
The students are in Barbados to undertake a nine-month hospitality course at the Barbados Community College under the Delta State Youth Programme.
The project was conceptualized by Donna St Hill.
Comissiong said the businesswoman was crucial to providing a solution to the challenges confronting students. However, he complained, that several calls to her land line and mobile phone went unanswered at a time when students were complaining about the quality of their accommodation.
“I would like to appeal to St Hill that she should make an effort to work with well-meaning people whose only involvement in this matter is to be of assistance to ensure that the project does not collapse, that it is a success, and if it is successful that success will augur well for her,” the Pan-Africanist said.
“She would be well advised to cooperate with those of us who are simply trying to do the best for the students.”