Since March 2013, when CrossRiverWatch was barely six months old after commencing publishing, we reported a story about how the then Chairman of Obudu Local Government Council, Mr. Emmanuel Ikwen, collected an overdraft of N6million from the Obudu branch of First Bank plc, to pay a Non Governmental Organization in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory so he could be awarded the Best Local Government Chairman in Cross River state by that NGO in a ceremony that held at the Sheraton Hotel in the FCT.
You can read that story here.
Since then, we have seen several persons in our state continue to arrange and pay for awards to sex up their images and create a facade of relevance around them. Even our current governor hasn’t been exempted from this compulsive disorder.
When on July 25, 2020, a news material came to our newsroom that three women in Cross River state, Dr. Inyang Asibong, Commissioner for International Development Cooperation; Dr. Betta Edu, Commissioner for Health and the Calabar South Local Government Area Chairperson, Lady Esther Bassey, were to be given awards by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, we were quickly prompted to do a check due to certain keywords that did not add up.
While stories were shared on social media by those close to the trio, that of Dr. Edu was given wide publicity and was reported by at least three national dailies including Vanguard, Leadership and Premium Times newspapers.
“Federal Ministry of Women Affairs Honours Dr. Betta Edu with Award of Excellence,” read the headline.
“The Hon. Commissioner for Health and chairman of Cross River State COVID-19 Taskforce Response Team Dr. Betta Edu has been invited by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Collaboration with Excellent Women International for an award of recognition and endorsement into the NIGERIA QUINTESSENTIAL WOMAN roll call of fame!,” it read.
The story said that the awards was organized by “The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Collaboration with Excellent Women International,” and that she would “be recognised on the 30th of July, 2020 along side other women of very top ranks in Nigeria.”
For instance, here is one shared by Matthew Okache, a blogger and aide to the Cross River state Government.
Federal Ministry of Women Affairs Honours Dr. Betta Edu with Award of Excellence*
The Hon. Commissioner for Health and…
In a bid not to fall into the fake news trap, CrossRiverWatch set out to get more information as the letter from the organizer was neither shared nor displayed and the venue of the event was not communicated.
Multiple searches about the group returned zero results except links to the controversial July 30 awards which were sponsored by the winners. No previous records, no former winners of the award online and no prior information whatsoever about the group.
Some things that returned from our check include:
1. A quick check to find out past awardees on Google; a search engine returned only results of the reportage on Dr. Edu.
2. The organization did not return any result except a Facebook page which seemed to be owned by a church and a group which was private as shown below:
This is a screenshot of the page and the link:
Click here for the link to the Facebook group.
However, there was a page that said it organizes weekly zoom meetings for women to inspire them.
The name of the event which held only on July 15, 10 days before the report quoted above is same as the name of the page.
Below is the screenshot and link to the page and event.
Click here for a link to the Facebook page event.
Another page, Women of Excellence- UAE Chapter however showed a recent activity, though 13 days before the story of the awards was shared.
*12 JULY 2019 – WOE ABU DHABI WAS LAUNCHED – HAPPY 1ST ANNIVERSARY 💃🏽💃🏽
Today we celebrate the launch of Women of…
Despite repeatedly searching using different keywords on Google, no information about the founder could be gotten.
3. The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, did not at any point, organize or give anyone in Cross River state any award in recent times. Rather it was a group known as “Excellent Women International” that organized the purported award event in Abuja. This was confirmed by the Minister, Dame Pauline Tallen in a tweet on the eve of the awards.
Let it be known that neither I- in my capacity as Minister of Women Affairs, nor the @FMWA_ng has endorsed this project.
-Dame Pauline K. Tallen OFR, KSG
— Dame Pauline K. Tallen OFR, KSG (@PaulineKTallen) July 29, 2020
4. The name of the ministry is federal ministry of women affairs and not federal ministry of women affairs and social development as stated in the stories sighted.
5. Also, there was no reportage on the event reported in any of the newspapers that had published the first story.
However, the Cross River State news bulletin, a website dedicated to publishing only pro government information, reported that Mrs. Asibong and Mrs. Bassey had been awarded and shared photographs.
Read the story here.
Edu could not be found in the images shared which showed only Dr. Asibong and Mrs. Bassey holding gold plated plaques in their hands. No image of the organizers was shared too.
While Dr. Edu reportedly traveled to Abuja, a page, Dr Betta Edu only shared a photograph of the Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire and herself, announcing that she had been elected as the acting national chairman of the forum of Commissioners of health.
Yesterday I emerged as the Acting National Chairman of Nigeria Commissioners For Health Forum.
My topmost priority now…
Another image purportedly showing the awardees in a group photograph revealed a grammatical error in the banner used in what looked like the stage. Briefing was misspelled as “Breifing,” a blunder too erroneous to have gone unnoticed if the organizers were related to the Federal Government.
Furthermore, there are inconsistencies in the title of the awards, the name of the organizers and the partners.
This was clearly a fake event as there was no way such an event held and only a few photographs of poor quality would emerge. Also, if it is an annual award, there should have been a record of such in the past.
Despite the existence of social media posts on the awards such as the one below, the presence of other awardees such as the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking Persons (NAPTIP), Dr. Julie Okah-Donli; the Director General of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Professor Armstrong Idachaba; the National President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Quadri Olaleye would have added more credibility.
Also, the names are mostly misplaced to the awardees organization as is the case in the post below where Professor Idachab is listed as the DG of NAPTIP. Another name, “Afusatu Shuaibu,” listed therein did not return any credible result relating to the event.
ASIBONG, BETTA, BASSEY, OTHERS RECEIVE OUTSTANDING NIGERIA WOMEN AWARDS IN ABUJA.
It was a season of awards and…
Given the prevailing circumstances in Nigeria today, it is difficult for these category of persons to be awarded without congratulatory messages from their subordinates filling pages of Newspapers as their Public Relations aides would have shared this widely.
While, we in CrossRiverWatch fully agree that hard work should be rewarded and awarded with all manner of appreciation, we however hold that these appreciation should not be procured.
The trio who were conned in this particular venture are no doubt great women who have achieved a lot for Cross River state and are deserving of commendation but such accolades should not come through the back door.
The group, Excellent Women International is an amorphous group that may have been formed only for the purpose of collecting monies from some vulnerable, award hungry women who were willing to pay.
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