Right Of Reply: Eghagha Denies Bursary Scam Claim In Unilag *Says Allegation Were Spurious, Libellous
Prof. Hope Eghagha, Delta Commissioner for Higher Education
Prof. Hope Eghagha, Delta Commissioner for Higher Education

The Delta state Ministry of Higher Education has reacted to alleged statements published by an online portal, following the recent demonstration by some students of University of Lagos, which accused the state Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Hope Eghagha of fraudulent actions in the release of bursary to deserving indigenous students.

In his right of reply, made available to Blank NEWS Online, the Commissioner, Prof. Eghagha denied the allegation, saying they were spurious and libellous, as he also made public how bursary in his kitty was effectively disbursed.

The statement reads:

My attention has been drawn to a publication by Saharareporters which reported an alleged demonstration by some students of University of Lagos, during which some libelous statements were credited to one Ambrose Ezenwani, a former student of the University of Lagos. Ordinarily, I would have ignored the report. But because my name and reputation which I have built over three decades are being impugned by Ezenwani, I have decided to issue a rebuttal. I have also briefed my counsel to initial action against the slanderer.

I have been in government, trying to practice what I preached as a critic, by ensuring judicious use of public funds. I have NEVER been involved in fraud and will never get into fraudulent actions. I have, working in concert with others, and with the approval of our prudent Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, saved Delta State Government millions of Naira by plugging leakages. What is being spearheaded by Ambrose and his cohorts is a backlash against us for being the driving force against years of bursary scam.

The first point to be made is that on assumption of office as Commissioner for Higher Education in 2009, I was confronted with one sad reality: some funds meant for students never got to them. A cabal within the institutions and others cornered funds meant for students. Along with members of the Scholarship Board headed by Monsignor Buchi Aninye, we took steps to sanitize the process. All staff were transferred and new persons posted to the board from the Civil Service. A new Executive Secretary was also appointed by the Governor. We introduced online registration so that potential beneficiaries could deal directly with the Scholarship Board. This yielded fruits. Twenty-three thousand fake names were discovered and expunged from the list.

I was surprised that two days after we announced to the world that fake names were found on the bursary list, some students, including Ambrose and his ilk, demonstrated in Asaba and accused members of the Board of inserting the names. They targeted the Executive Secretary who is the Chief Executive of the Board. At that time, my name was not mentioned. Suddenly, it is ‘Mr. Hope Eghagha’ that inserted fake names!

As for the purported demonstration by students, I call on the reporters to visit Unilag and ascertain those who took part in it. The reporter who first called for my response said that they were a handful. Indeed, they are not students of Unilag. The genuine leaders and members of National Association of Delta State Students were not aware of any protest and did not take part because they are satisfied with the scheme. I have always left firm instructions with the Executive Secretary to ensure that the students see the transparency of the process. We have run a system in which you don’t have to know anybody to get your entitlements.

The state Government has never released N2 billion at any one time for Bursary awards. The following is the breakdown of releases made since 2009. In 2009/2010, the approved sum was N514,706.035.75. Of this, N434,646,035.75 was expended while savings amounted to N80,060,000. In 2010/2011, the approved sum was N653,700,932.29; the sum of N481,145,432.29 was expended; savings amounted to N172,555,500. In 2011/2012, the approved sum was N610,134,868.46; amount expended was N 555,134,868.46. N55,000,000.00 was saved. In 2012/2013, the sum of N699,650,256.50 was approved for the bursary. Payment is on-going. Each year, whatever was saved as a result of plugged leakages were ploughed back into payment for the next year with the approval of the State Executive Council.

I was never detained by any security organization in the country or elsewhere as alleged by Ambrose, a scoundrel who revels in mudslinging and campaigns of calumny. We live in a country in which once an allegation is made against government officials, the onus is on the official to prove guiltlessness.

A detailed account of how payments were made is available at the Delta State Scholarship Board. For two years running, we have published names of beneficiaries in some national newspapers. The response has been encouraging.

I would like Saharareporters to interview Delta State Students in tertiary Institutions across the country about their assessment of the scheme before publishing reports by scammers. It is on record that Ambrose registered twice and collected money from some students to register them. These reports are with security agencies. Indeed, for double registration, Ambrose ought to face prosecution.

Finally, our people have a proverb: if the farm owner fails to pronounce an intruder on his farm a thief, the thief would call the owner a thief. Members of the Scholarship Board and my office are proud to affirm that since we started operating the different scholarship schemes of the State, there has been a remarkable improvement in service delivery. No acts of mudslinging will sway us from rendering service to the people of our State.


Prof. Hope Eghagha
Commissioner for Higher Education
Delta State

News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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