Scholarship Racketeering Rocks Petroleum Technology Development Fund

According to insider sources, who pleaded anonymity for fear of victimisation, most applicants can’t apply for scholarships on the dedicated portal of the agency.

Fresh facts have emerged on how the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund, Bello Gusau, entrench nepotism in awarding scholarships to Nigerians under the agency’s scholarship scheme. 

The source stated that it was a deliberate act by Gusau, who had refused to upgrade the portal’s functionality despite the vast amount of monies spent by the ICT Department. 

The source said, “The PTDF is a mess under Bello Gusua; we have never seen such a brazen display of nepotism in the history of the organization. 

“It is obvious that the ES has been deliberately denying qualified candidates scholarship opportunities in preference for only his kinsmen.

“The situation is PTDF is such that the office of the ES constantly floods the ICT department with a long list of names for the award of scholarship. The interesting thing is that most of these candidates are not qualified, mainly his kinsmen.”    

Another source, who is a top staff in the ICT Department, stated that the Executive Secretary had deliberately refused to engage reputable firms to provide support to the unit — a situation that had significantly affected the department’s efficiency, especially with regards to the application process for scholarship candidates. 

“There have been repeated instances where the ES rejected a reputable service provider recommended to provide backbone support to our ICT Department. 

“The ES rejected the recommendation on the excuse that the proposed cost was exorbitant. We made spirited efforts to convince the ES to no avail.

“He added that since then, candidates have been unable to complete the application process seamlessly. 

“This has resulted in all manner of manipulation of the scholarship process by the ES manually. 

“We had a particular instance where about 75% of those awarded scholarships were the kinsmen of the ES, candidates of his friends and cronies. It was that bad,” the source added.

It was further gathered that N250million was paid to a consultant engaged by the Executive Secretary to advise the agency on ICT matters.

“We were shocked when a memo originated from the office of the ES for the engagement of the consultant. What he did was to spread the payment monthly since he could not unilaterally approve such bulk payment.

“And the interesting thing was that the supposed consultant was not only qualified; he was an in-law to the ES. This is how the ES has turned the agency into a state and family show.

“The wife of the ES is a regular face at the agency. An official car was also assigned to her, alongside police orderlies, all at the agency’s expense. 

“There is hardly any contract given out in the agency without her knowledge, that is, if the contractor was not recommended by her or representing her interest.

“It is a dangerous trend at the agency as it stands. The entrenchment of religious and ethnic sentiments is rife, and if urgent steps are not taken, it might affect the operations of the agency greatly,” the source added.

A senior official of the PTDF contacted by SaharaReporters over the matter, declined comments, asking our correspondent to send in queries through an official letter.

Source: Sahara Reporters.