LEADS scholar petitions Buhari, alleges fraud in scheme

Newly appointed Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed

Newly appointed Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed

• ‘NUC scribe to meet aggrieved participants next week’

One of the scholars of the Linkages with Experts and Academics in the Diaspora Scheme (LEADS) has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing the National Universities Commission (NUC) of fraud.

The scholar, a professor of communication, who served in the Department of Mass Communication of the University of Lagos, Daniel Awodiya, called for the probe of the commission.

In the petition titled “NUC Fraudulent, Callous and Scandalous Treatment of Diaspora Scholars brought to Nigeria on False Pretence” and dated August 20, 2016, Prof. Awodiya said he was forced to quit the programme on the evening of August 19, 2016 even though his contract was supposed to run from January 2016 to December 2016. This is because he had not been paid his monthly stipends since he resumed on the programme.

He is being owed a total sum of $19,500 being seven months stipends and airfare to Nigeria in the sum of $2,000.

He explained that the immediate past executive secretary of NUC, Julius Okojie introduced him to the programme in June 2015 and after filling in the forms and providing the necessary documents, he was engaged to resume in January 2016 on a one-year contract that is expected to end in December 2016.

“The fraud in the programme became apparent when I later found out that many previously on the programme were not paid. Yet Prof. Okojie continued to advertise the programme and lure unsuspecting scholars to the country without the intention of paying them. The NUC does not and intends not to contact any scholar that has arrived in Nigeria. I had to fly to and from Lagos and Abuja at a great expense to fill in forms and persuade staffers to move my file from office to office, and finally to the finance department where it has got stuck for seven months.”

However, an official of the commission informed The Guardian that the new Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed is being briefed about the plight of the scholars.

“The new Executive Secretary appears to be willing to solve the problems. He held a short meeting with three of the scholars on Tuesday. The meeting was rescheduled for next week Thursday and it is believed he will do something about the situation. He was friendly to the scholars and even took some photographs with them. So I believe he is willing to do something,” the source said.

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