Law enforcement authorities in Barbados say they are not investigating any report of money stolen from a fund earmarked to finance the vocational training and accommodation of about 90 Nigerian students in Barbados and Trinidad.
While allegations have been made in the media, a senior official in the Fraud Squad of the Royal Barbados Police Force told Barbados TODAY: “We have not received any official complaints from the parties [students].”
The Nigerians, who are in Barbados to study at the Barbados Community College (BCC) under the Delta State Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) of Nigeria, have claimed they were being neglected by the Nigerian state governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
The Sahara Reporters– a Nigerian online news publication – said although the programme advertised itself as one that would train students in agriculture, tourism, hospitality, and culinary arts, students are now claiming the entire venture is a “scam.”
They have questioned the role of the state deputy governor, Professor Amos Utuama and Barbadian Donna St Hill, the Delta State consultant in charge of the programme.
In the same news report, Commissioner for Higher Education in Delta State, Professor Hope Eghagha, denied there was any fraud.
He did confirm, however, that the students were having some accommodation challenges in Barbados.
“We are talking to the consultant to improve living conditions or possibly move them to a better hotel. We’ve appealed to the students to exercise some patience while we sort things out,” Eghagha explained.
Amidst the controversy that has surrounded them since they expressed concern about “unsatisfactory” conditions at the Casa Grande Hotel when they arrived two weeks ago, 87 of the 90 Nigerians began their Barbadian educational journey today with a cultural orientation and team building programme at the University of the West Indies, 3Ws Oval.
The five-day initiative, which is being facilitated by Paradigm Consultants & Associates, will cover areas such as goal setting, conflict resolution and cross cultural communication.
One of the facilitators, Sandra Husbands, who spoke to the students on the topic Adapting to life in Barbados including civil responsibilities and obligations, told Barbados TODAY the programme was designed to help the Nigerian students integrate into the wider Barbadian society.
“They will be here for the next nine months and we want to make sure that the encounter is as successful as it can be,” she said.
“During the course of the next couple days, one of our main goals will be to try and empower them on how to navigate the Barbadian environment.”
Earlier in the day, St Hill confirmed the students would be in a session next week with a team from the BCC to finalize their placement in the Departments of Agriculture and Hospitality Services.
“The BCC has confirmed classes will begin the following week and next week’s sessions will be very specific to sharing their course allocations, class time and address any of their educational concerns,” she said.