Evidence that the award conferred on former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olabode George, is bogus emerged on Friday as the project co-ordinator of the award, Olufemi Lawson, had difficulty answering tough questions about the award from our reporter.
Mr. George, an ex-convict who recently served a two-year jail term for corruption, was conferred the Kwame Nkrumah African Leadership Award by a renegade arm of the All Africa Students Union (AASU) led by Mr. Lawson.
During a telephone chat with our reporter, Mr. Lawson, who is the public face of the award and has gone through great pain to publicise the event, could not remember the names of the other nominees for the award.
“I can’t remember now but if you want I can send their names to your email,” he said sounding very unconvincing.
When pressed further to name just three other nominees for the award, Mr. Lawson couldn’t and proceeded to contradicted himself:
“I’m not a member of the selection committee but I’m aware of everything about the award,” he said.
Mr Lawson said the PDP leader was chosen for the award for his “single commitment to youth empowerment.” He also explained that the former Ondo State military administrator has helped many indigent students with scholarships and grants.
When asked to name the foundation under which the grants and scholarships were awarded, Mr. Lawson said Mr. George has been offering them in his private capacity and not through a foundation.
He could not also say the number of students that have got grants and received scholarship from Mr. George. Though he said all Mr. George needed to do was to forward the names of the beneficiaries of his grants and scholarships for verification to be considered for the award insinuating that Mr. George has solicited to be honoured with the award.
According to Mr Lawson, the award ceremony that was held at the Eko Hotel and Suites was well attended by prominent members of the PDP notable among them was Vice President Namadi Sambo who was represented by controversial former senator from Osun State, Iyiola Omisore.
Mr. Lawson claimed others PDP leaders at the event were, Bode Olajumoke, a former senator representing Ondo North; former High Commissioner to Ghana, Musiliu Obanikoro; and members of the diplomatic corps and academics from across the country.
Mr. Lawson said the ceremony went well and many of those that attended praised the tremendous work done by Mr. George in empowering the youth.
Meanwhile, the leadership of AASU has distanced itself from the award. In an exclusive interview, the Secretary General of the union said Mr. Lawson is an impostor and does not speak represent the union.
“Lawson is not an official of AASU,” Mr. Amah said. “He contested for the position of deputy secretary general and lost. He was defeated by a Liberian. Since then, he has been pursuing a fraudulent scheme, using the name of the organization to hand out dubious award.”
AASU also released a statement warning the public, especially Nigerians to be mindful of dubious characters that use the guise of the union to confer bogus awards on prominent members of the public.
The statement said prominent Nigerians who have been dubbed by these fraudsters are: the Director General of Nigeria’s National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Olusegun Adewoye; the Rector of Yaba College of Technology, Margaret Ladipo; and a certain ‘Chief Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri.’
The statement said the only Nigerian duly conferred with the award is former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Expectedly, Mr. Lawson has refuted the accusation that he is a con. He said the union does not need to mandate him.