· Millions released for training of repatriated persons, ID cards shrouded in controversy Returnees accuse govt officials of stuffing beneficia
· Millions released for training of repatriated persons, ID cards shrouded in controversy
- Returnees accuse govt officials of stuffing beneficiaries’ lists with names of family members
- Niger Delta Ministry, Senator roll out conflicting figures
Millions of naira meant for training young Nigerians recently repatriated from Libya and other foreign countries and funded by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is now the subject of controversy. Supposed beneficiaries of the training in poultry and fishery organised for them in Edo and Oyo states are accusing government officials of hijacking the training for the benefits of their family members and other relations.
Participants at the training programmes were meant to receive the sum of N300,000 each besides other benefits, but smart government officials replaced the names of many of the returnees with those of their relations. The aggrieved returnees are also accusing the Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce officials in the state of inflating an ID card contract executed by the body to their detriment.
The trend has compounded the apprehension of many of the returnees who are now threatening to return to the perilous journey from which they were earlier rescued. For instance, some of the repatriated persons claimed that they had no knowledge of a training programme organised for them in Ibadan and Benin. One of the returnees, who identified himself as Fatai Yusuf, said he was not aware of the training programme despite the fact that the organisers had his telephone number
Yusuf said: “I was not informed about any training by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in Ibadan. They chose people who are related to them and picked women from different places to attend the training. Everybody in the government house has my number. I told them to call me anytime they have something to do. I used to leave Kano to go to Benin for training. If I could do that, is it Ibadan I would not be able to go? They can send me to Lagos to be asked useless questions on television.”
Another repatriated person, who gave his name simply as Sunny, alleged that the training programme was only another opportunity by government officials to enrich themselves. He said: “Those people are only using our group’s name to sign out money from government’s purse. We didn’t benefit from the training. This is our group and we know ourselves. They should make public the names of all the beneficiaries and let us see how many returnees are on the list. I can bet that most of the names you will find on the list would be those of their relations and girlfriends. This is a clear case of fraud and injustice, and we will resist it.”
In separate interviews, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the lawmaker representing Edo South, Senator Mathew Uroghide, who is involved in the project as part of his constituency project, gave conflicting figures about the sums involved and how many returnees benefitted from the programme. While the ministry said that a total of 104 returnees were trained, Uroghide said they were 200. The spokesperson of the ministry, Stephen Kilebi said: “The total of people trained is 104 for both Ibadan and Edo. They were trained in poultry and fishery.
“Each of them was given N300, 000 as starter pack. That was what the department told me. The ministry would from time to time check to know if they are doing what they are meant to do with the training and the empowerment.”
Contrary to the ministry’s claim that they trained 104 returnees, Uroghide said 200 returnees were trained.
“The Libya returnees that were trained were actually 148. The remaining 52 others were unemployed youths from Edo South, my constituency. The ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was already training people in the region for one reason or the other. As a member of the committee, I told them that some people came from Libya and that the government documented them.
“Then they said the state government should submit the names of those returnees. The state submitted the list. Ninety-six names were sent but they found that some of them didn’t come. These returnees are not in a camp. They are all around.