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Nigerian students get their wish to leave Casa Grande

Following their recent complaints about the quality of their accommodation at Casa Grande Hotel in Oldbury, St Philip, the 90 Nigerian students whose nine-month stay in Barbados has been shrouded in controversy are to be relocated to their promised south coast home – Infinity on the Beach.

Some of the Nigerian  students outside Casa Grande.

Some of the Nigerian
students outside Casa Grande.

This was revealed today by the programme’s consultant facilitator, Barbadian Donna St Hill, in an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY, in which she revealed that an internal investigation was now underway into the management of US$750,000 entrusted to former project manager Sharon Brathwaite.

St Hill said Brathwaite, who was suspended two weeks ago, had still not accounted for all her transactions, with roughly $2,000-$3,000 now left in the account.

While admitting that the Delta State Empowerment Programme, which is said be costing the Nigerian government US$10 million in total between Barbados and Trinidad had “turned sour”, St Hill said she was presently focused on “redoing the project from scratch”, including hiring a new project manager in Bridgetown after Brathwaite accused her of micro-management. “I delegate authority, but I am responsible to the Governor and the Delta State. So I have to know what is going on, and I have to be the one who approves spending,” said the programme facilitator, while noting that “being the boss means sometimes not being popular”.

Programme’s consultant facilitator, Barbadian Donna St Hill

Programme’s consultant facilitator, Barbadian Donna St Hill

In explaining the recent breakdown between her and Brathwaite, she said “the turning point really was when I learnt Miss Brathwaite had gone to Nigeria to see my clients, not to take over the responsibilities of the headaches, but to control more of the financing and have it paid directly to her”.

St Hill also said she was shocked that even after some of the Nigerian students were reportedly forced to seek local medical treatment, the programme’s administrators were told by the doctors “they never heard of us”.

“They [doctors] were shocked,” she said.

St Hill also said some of the students were at her throat, accusing her of bringing bad food to them when she had instructed Brathwaite from the first day on the type of menu required.

She further charged that the former project manager was guilty of inciting the students to complain and that she had written to Brathwaite warning her that such behaviour would not only be bad for her, but also harmful for Barbados.

“The suspension didn’t seem to stop that. It kept going on. I had letters coming to my hotel with my room number on it, which could only have come from certain places,” said St Hill, who described the recent happenings as “slightly disturbing”.

“There is a lot of passion and I can see clearly people still want to come back and work on the project, which I am surprised [about], seeing they were not fired, just suspended,” the facilitator pointed out.

In terms of the students’ accommdation, St Hill confirmed that efforts were underway to have the Nigerians move to Infinity on the Beach in St Lawrence Gap by May of this year.

She explained that despite the loss of their booking last year, a contractual arrangement remained in place with the hotel for the provision of accommodation for the students.

“We [gave] them [Infinity] what they needed to have . . . So anytime we are ready to move in, that is still the arrangement of the contract we have with them,” she explained, adding that the manager of Infinity on the Beach Renee Coppin had been invited to address the students.

“I was hoping she [Coppin] would have said March [to relocate], but we were all surprised when she said May, having been told January or February. We have to respect that and just asked, ‘could you [Coppin] now put it in writing so that everybody is on the same page?’

“We are working towards that and [have asked the hotel to] let us know what is the balance [having made an earlier deposit].”

The programme leader acknowledged that they may be forced to forfeit some of the money already paid to the south coast hotel based on the fact that the students, who were orginally due here in time for September, had been delayed until December.

St Hill also praised the owner of Casa Grande, Mrs Asha Ram Mirchandani, who she said had come to the rescue of the visiting African students.

“I have to say that even before [the money] was deposited into her account, the students were in the place. No other hotel really would have done that . . .

“She put herself out for us and for the students. They would have had to go back to Nigeria. The only other place they could go was back to Nigeria,” St Hill added.

34 Responses to MOVE ON

  1. Margaret Lorde
    Margaret Lorde January 16, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Too much confusion surrounding these students and their stay here. It seems the program had its internal problems even before the students set foot on a plane. It causes me to wonder then why weren’t these fundamental issues resolved before tongues got to wagging creating the ugliness that has ensued since. There was too much at stake for all parties and for Barbados as a result of the poor execution of this programme.

  2. Sherry Gittens
    Sherry Gittens January 16, 2015 at 2:42 am

    Too much she say he say when will the truth will ever be told. Stop all the blaming and both take responsibility for your actions. Making the situation worst

  3. Frederick Alleyne
    Frederick Alleyne January 16, 2015 at 3:50 am


  4. Cassandra Gittens
    Cassandra Gittens January 16, 2015 at 5:03 am

    It’s about time that something is being done about the situation

  5. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner January 16, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Donna St Hill too little too late and sure truth is still not being told,,hope Barbados taxpayers don’t have to spend one dime on this saga.plain and simple.

    • Prince Shepheard
      Prince Shepheard January 16, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Real thing

    • Wayne P Hoyte
      Wayne P Hoyte January 16, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      That is what I have been saying …. if the money is split between here and TNT and already there are claims of the fund being mismanaged. I hope this country dont have to foot any bills.

  6. Matthew Grosvenor
    Matthew Grosvenor January 16, 2015 at 5:44 am

    “I have to say that even before [the money] was deposited into her account, the students were in the place. No other hotel really would have done that . . .
    “She put herself out for us and for the students. They would have had to go back to Nigeria. The only other place they could go was back to Nigeria,” St Hill added. Where is the official apology from the Nigerians, this is what we are waiting for.

    • Greitcha Smith
      Greitcha Smith January 16, 2015 at 7:53 am

      hmm “… put herself out for us and for the students …”. Why then did the students complain if that was indeed the case!?

    • Matthew Grosvenor
      Matthew Grosvenor January 16, 2015 at 7:55 am

      They wanted AC and a TV in every room.

    • Victoria Lily
      Victoria Lily January 16, 2015 at 8:35 am

      They know what was paid for … International students are never paupers, but they coming from Africa many have the slave trade in thought.

  7. Hassan Taylor
    Hassan Taylor January 16, 2015 at 6:06 am

    Should never be there in the first place

  8. Tony Webster January 16, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Money is NOT the root of all evil. Greed is, aided and apparently in this case, by incompentence. And Oil is the the root of vast, vast, sums of money. Dio the math. HEY!!! at least, we have assisted them in ameliorating both of these problems!!
    Ever wonder why counties are said to be “cursed” when vast quantities of oil are discopvered? Nigeria… and it’s various arms of what passes for “governance”…like Delta State…could teach US how to make money dissappear into thin air: they are par excellence, the masters of this dark art.
    In recent times, a sitting Governor of the Nigerian Central Bank, was constrained to publicly point out that some $20b (that’s BILLION) was “unaccounted for” from oil revenues. Maybe.. just maybe…we might just help them find a cupple of those wandering billions…in OUR treasury and cenral bank …and simultaneously…help reduce their “problems”!!
    UPDATE: the above bank whistle-blower is no longer in his ivory tower: he has re-located to another part of the world. For his health.

  9. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock January 16, 2015 at 6:53 am

    The damage already done, let the program begins.

  10. Angela Thompson Branch
    Angela Thompson Branch January 16, 2015 at 7:52 am

    This is election time in the Delta state,I really think some of these students wanted to make their government look bad and in the process is making every one look bad as well.I for one think some of their actions were planned .For example is the water pressure in that area normally that low ,who is to say some did not turn down the valve or something like that and why would they take water out of the pool when they knew the media was there ,all seem like deliberate actions to me. Students need now to make the best of their opportunity and make Nigeria proud.Tired of all this nonsense .The people in charge need to get their act together . This is just my humble opinion.

    • Victoria Lily
      Victoria Lily January 16, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Very good opinion … But with a sudden in flock of guests occupancy at the hotel (there is never full for so many days) the water pressure can be affected.

  11. Frederick Walcott
    Frederick Walcott January 16, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Students? Are we sure?

  12. Adrian Richards
    Adrian Richards January 16, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Still does not add up…so between now and May they are stuck at Casa Blande ?

  13. Pluto Merick January 16, 2015 at 8:18 am

    Wait these fellas in the picture is the proposed students ? Gine which BCC ? Wait these heavily gaited men rund the mid-section? Gimme a break do.

  14. Harry Turnover January 16, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Nigeria is noted for its many scams,frauds and tricks. As I said before,this thing has its roots in Nigeria UNKNOWN to those students.

    As I see it , a ” spanner” got into the scam or trick when the students did not arrive in Barbados as ORIGINALLY planned.,and the ORIGINAL hotel took in other guests.

    At least TWO people in Bdos were supposed to have benefited but only one might have,and now certain things are being brought to light.

  15. Louise King
    Louise King January 16, 2015 at 8:33 am

    why is it de public has to always intervene to get it right—talk about incompe tence—-

  16. Louise King
    Louise King January 16, 2015 at 8:36 am

    a person has to get truth spirit in one<S mind to speak truth—satan never tells truth—

  17. Stuart Jackie
    Stuart Jackie January 16, 2015 at 8:45 am

    All involved should stop making themselves look stupider and clean up the mess them make, that includes getting back the people money. The money ain’t wunna one to spend. NONSENCE

  18. Donna Harewood January 16, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Nothing surprises me about what I’ve just read!

  19. George Smith
    George Smith January 16, 2015 at 9:36 am

    How old are these students? These people got to be in there forties, there is something wrong with this whole thing. We will know the truth in nine months.

  20. George Smith
    George Smith January 16, 2015 at 9:36 am

    How old are these students? These people got to be in there forties, there is something wrong with this whole thing. We will know the truth in nine months.

  21. Luisan Rogers
    Luisan Rogers January 16, 2015 at 10:10 am

    The Delta State YOUTH Empowerment programme

  22. Cheryl Alleyne-Brooks
    Cheryl Alleyne-Brooks January 16, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    All this talk it look like pure crookery went on here talk done

  23. Gloria Mendes
    Gloria Mendes January 16, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    The attitude of people really surprises me. These people come from Nigeria. On of the wealthiest parts of Africa. They don’t live in the bush. So how can you expect them to accept sub standard accommodation especially after they were shown brochures of accommodation far superior to what they are now experiencing.

    • Matthew Grosvenor
      Matthew Grosvenor January 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Right, they are wealthy people brought here on a program, your 100% correct.

  24. Ouida Burnham
    Ouida Burnham January 16, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    In the end the truth MUST Prevail the money lovers GOD is alive an always will be

  25. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall January 16, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    My concern is that these student would get a proper place to stay and they education.

  26. Maxine Hutchinson January 16, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Something just does not fit here in this story. In addition, everyone is centered on the “students” obtaining the goods and services that were allegedly offered to them.

    For our sake, let’s hope that what is going on in Nigeria at the present time does not begin to happen here. All that is needed is a pocket of persons to survey the land and send feedback.

    I would plead with all the persons involved in the project to put their differences aside, make sure that the plan is executed to the last dot, pray for the nine months to pass quickly and that during the time, we can go to sleep with minds at ease.

    Barbados is just 166 square miles. Do not get caught up in anything that could cause us all to live in fear.


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