Healthcare trainer explains why Nigerians in Diaspora are reluctant to help those back home

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In a conversation, an Ireland-based entrepreneur, accredited training provider, health and social care professional reveals that many home based Nigerians end up victimizing the very people who genuinely come to support them.

Dr Olayinka Dixon, is a professional Vocational Education Trainer and Adult Skills Assessor for more than 35 years since 1985, with a first degree from University of Benin in 1983 who taught in University of Calabar during NYSC before travelling abroad.

She retrained into different industry disciplines, several times, across Europe and the USA, including teaching Computing skills, Programming, Hardware maintenance and Software configuration, and health and social care, and she has used her combined skills in the teaching of adults in different UK and some Ireland colleges since leaving Nigeria in 1985. She is also a Journalist and a John Maxwell trained coach, trainer, and mentor.

Dr Dixon has, over several years now, silently run several youth empowerment programs inside Nigeria to support many businesses of young Nigerians from her personal and business income. Recently she set up an NGO in memory of her late father, where she pays school fees, attends to calls for medical support, and other emergencies from people she met on social media. She does not know and has not met many of these people. She supports young women setting up their businesses. She said they remind her of her own life.

While discussing in an interview with our reporter, Dr Dixon revealed that a lot is going on in the Diaspora, to the point where many diasporans offering genuine support, end up being duped, cyber bullied, harassed or blackmailed by some Nigerians they try to support. “Abroad is hard and we work hard but we miss home. So, the smallest we can do is to support the few that we can.”

“I can’t really blame anyone in Nigeria though,” she said, “it can be hard to know who to trust, especially with all the stories of diasporans that do dupe Nigerians. But you must understand that many genuine Diasporans are serially scammed by some Nigerians, and some of them mistake people for scammers, based on dubious stories and allegations by aggrieved persons. You can never know the real motive of anyone who is telling you negative stories about others. The truth is that, no matter where you live, you can’t please everyone and no matter how good you choose to be, there will always be those who dislike you for whatever reason, or wish they could be like you. Those disgruntled ones will therefore try to bring you down. This is how life is,” she said.

Relating some of the experiences of herself and her business partner, Mrs Isioma Ogonuwe, she recalled a very recent incident of severe harassment and bullying while she was on her sick bed with high blood pressure. Nobody can get away with that kind of harassment anywhere in Europe without being arrested, regardless of the issue. But, Nigeria seems to be a place where people get away with lots of criminally abusive behaviour.

“There was this woman who presented her daughter-in-law for training because she claimed she wanted her to travel to the UK via the UK visa program.

“As you know, the UK was running a Healthcare workers Visa Program which they have merged into the Highly Skilled program now. This was to address severe staff shortages in the industry. However, many Nigerians and other nationals in the Diaspora were charging up to £17,000 per individual and £27,000 per family. You won’t believe this. Many of them were demanding a deposit of £7,000 upfront for Sponsorship Certificates and jobs that do not exist. Then the people would get to the UK and for many months they didn’t work because, of course, they had no jobs. To make it worse, the remaining £10,000 or £20,000 is demanded from them as monthly repayments over three years. How much is the salary?

“It was Pastor Ossai that alerted us to the danger that people were going through and Isioma and I were really  dismayed. “Why are our people like this?” So, between us, we decided to train some people up to Diploma level, in two stages, and help them search for jobs. Once we are able to build their skills, they immediately increase their chances of getting jobs anywhere in the world.

“I remember Isioma said, “If our people are well qualified, they won’t be scammed in this way, and can even get jobs, confidently, in any country, because the jobs are there.”  We then agreed to roll out training that will help those who want to avoid Loan Sharks. We discovered that some of those businesses are travel agents, but the pandemic had affected many businesses. So, one can’t also blame those agents. It’s their business, and there was no shortage of people ready to pay.

“We work in the healthcare industry, and some have over 25 years of experience (on and off). We decided to train as many as we can, from absolute beginner levels, right up to Diploma levels, supported with hands-on practicals. Our complete program is in two stages, and we decided to help them search for jobs after training in the first stage and diploma next with job search, prepare them for job and visa interviews and help them to settle, after helping them get suitable property when they arrive.

“We extended our business services to be able to do business in the UK and I offered to train my own family first. I told my cousin the package fees for the two stages were £2,550 and £3000. He immediately enrolled three of his children and his brother on the training. He said, “it’s cheaper than searching for £15k to £18k college fees for each of the twins. I plan for my family to go first on our program, and we agreed.

“After we started, I became a Registered Manager on the program we registered for, as an accredited training provider. We are part of a large community of hard-working and dedicated registered managers who are committed to delivering outstanding care. Training forms a major part of this because untrained and unskilled workers have been known to kill patients in their care. Our duty of care is, first and foremost, to the patients. So it’s important that people we recommend are trained. That’s what our business is set up to address.

“They count on us to deliver excellence in care. And that is what we are determined to do. There has been pressure on us to purchase employer “Certificates of Sponsorships” and to assume ourselves as employers. We are not employers. The legal work of being an employer is much and we can’t combine it.  We are trainers, and we already work from a database of more than 50 government approved employers. So all we are doing, is providing a “Win-Win” situation for both the employers and the new healthcare workers.

“Our trainees would be trained and accredited by CPD, coming to the employer. After their probation, if they don’t like to remain in healthcare, they can do a quick retraining, as guided by us, and move into Social Care. That is our setup and that’s what we packaged. Anyone who concludes the first training, which includes the FREE Care Certificate, we offer to Assess, set up with Practical sessions, conduct observations, and 15 modular assessments.

After this they could decide not to continue with 2nd stage  because we realise that £3000 may be much for some, going into Diploma. They could still get jobs. My cousins preferred the Diploma option because they said it is far cheaper than college fees.

“This is how we started. We did not want to advertise. However, one of my friends, Remsy, in her enthusiasm, apparently announced my approval as a registered manager in a WhatsApp group. Before I knew it, people had started calling my personal number, ignoring the business number. We had to quickly set up application forms for them to fill, and I explained our setup to them before they paid. We are not employers. That’s how we got three non-family members to join our program. One of the ladies, Mrs Naomi Dike, introduced the first two, and then later also, one Mrs Omonori.

“Unfortunately, I developed a severe high blood pressure just as the practical sessions were going on in Lagos, and had to organise almost everything else from my sick bed.

“The last person to join was the one who didn’t believe I was sick. She nearly killed me on that sick bed. She called every minute, sent voice messages, she creamed my pictures from Facebook, and almost harassed the life out of me. I almost died in that harassment.

”I remember suffering severe blackouts, migraines, fever, and being unable to function normally. Naomi knew it. Remsy, Vivian, Ossai, even Philomena, and the others in the team. Many couldn’t reach me because I was far away, almost across the Irish border.

“Mrs Omonori kept screaming and cursing that she wants her FULL money back. “How can you say you are sick? You’re a scammer, fraudster, 419, ole  thief.” Eventually, I told Vivian (Isioma), “Please let’s refund her the full £6000 so that she won’t kill me. Vivian is our business Finance Officer, modular trainer, and internal assessor. She refused because Mrs Omonori’s daughter in-law had concluded the first training. When she realised that my health was declining, she yielded to my pleas, and agreed that I would find out how to transfer the money to the woman so that I could concentrate on my health. That mistake cost us almost £7500 because the pound had fallen then, and we had to source naira from different parts of the world.

“Anyway, my team decided we were no longer going to allow me to make unilateral decisions for refunds. All cards and bank books were taken from me, because they all saw me as “soft hearted and vulnerable.

“Someone even suggested that Mrs Omonori must have used juju on me to collect more than she was due, because she was only due £3000 for the Diploma and Job Search program.

“After more than 12 weeks of agreed initial training plus assessment of all prior learning, underpinning knowledge and compilation of questions and answers, bringing them up to Level 5 Diploma levels, Naomi now also wants her full money back. And just like Mrs Omonori, she’s raining curses, abuses, and shouts on me. Isioma spoke with her for over an hour (we have the recordings) and explained that we had started job search. Initially we were hoping to get student admissions for all of them, to fast track their entry, and proceed from there. Naomi and the others agreed with the plan. Dramatically, Naomi changed her mind and started calling for a full refund, just like her friend, Mrs Omonori. Naomi, who was nice before, started calling me all sorts of names.

“Our accountant was informed and we booked an appointment. After accounting, he advised that we refund Naomi for services that we had not completed or rendered. This came to £954. A Credit Note was raised. Our association supports us with templates of forms. So we sent her one of the association’s standard “Complaints Resolution forms” (with the address of the UK Office of the Financial Ombudsman), which regulates all financial business dealings in the UK.

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As soon as she received it, she sent anonymous callers to harass me with threats”. Dixon said.

In chat messages and voice notes in the possession of our reporter, both Naomi Dike and some others threatened Dr (honorary) Dixon they would blackmail her on social media through blogs, adding that they are “already talking to Sahara Reporters, to expose” alleged “fraudulent ways”.

One of the chats from a person with no name reads: “We are on it. The bloggers are waiting. We listened to our discussion with Naomi this morning. It’s now obvious to us that you are a fraudulent person. We are compiling the names of poor Nigerians u hv scammed. Even the ones u hv refunded their money like Mrs Omonoli. We HAVE spoken to all of them in Nigeria and Diaspora including one Mr Israel. My advice is that you settle with all these people as soon as possible. What you did is against the law. We HV search all information about u and notice that all through ur life it has been scamming. The law will be on you this time. Just wait and see. It has started. You don’t need to reply to this message pls.” (sic)

“We are already talking with the British and Dublin Embassies in Nigeria. That’s our job. ICPC and EFCC know how to deal with financial prostitutes like u. Check out the story next week. We just finished meeting with Sahara Report now”  “How Dr Olayinka Dixon-Oludaiye a fraudster duped a Nigerian seeking jobs in the UK Million of Dollars.” (sic)

Our reporter questioned Ms Dixon extensively about these allegations. We also listened to a recorded audio of a meeting between Naomi, Isioma and Ms Dixon where Isioma took time to explain to Naomi that all her assessments have been completed, which is why it was possible to award her with CPD certificates for the appropriate levels.

Ms Dixon explained that “Vocational Education is not like Academic Education. There are no exams. We only use every available means to verify the evidence  and underpin knowledge of the participants. They don’t always have to be in class because of how we agree to conduct assessments. But assessments are paperwork intensive. In Vocational Education, assessors do most of the work because the aim is to ensure that the participants can demonstrate or explain the subject matter and demonstrate competence at the appropriate level.

“This was explained to all of them, which is why my cousin agreed for his children and brother to participate in the training.”

Our reporter also spoke with Ms Dixon’s cousin, based here in Nigeria, who confirmed her claims.

Ms Dixon mentioned that Clear Choice Careers and Staffing Services is registered in Ireland with offices in Northern Ireland, UK, and we are duly certified as  approved training providers offering CPD courses. We are authorised to issue appropriate level of competence certificates. She lamented that she was shocked that Naomi is suddenly claiming ignorance of this process as she then refused to allow them to continue with job search. When pressure for time was mounted on her, Ms Dixon said she asked if they wanted to try the Student option. Some agreed, including Naomi. She even sent her passport but changed her mind two days later.

Instead, she is demanding for a full refund after more than 12 weeks of training and CPD certificates and also resorting to employing the same tactics of bullying and blackmailing, like Mrs Omonori did, also could be heard in audio threatening Ms Dixon’s career, and life, while declaring “I am from Delta. I will fight you with everything if you don’t pay me my money in full, I swear to God. You don’t know anything yet.”

“This is why I was reflecting on Why many Nigerians abroad who are in business do not offer to support people back home. It can be quite traumatising. It also deflates your emotions and willingness to support anybody”, she said.

In conclusion, Ms Dixon said: “The sure thing is that my conscience and that of every member of my team is very clear. We have nothing to hide and are working perfectly according to laws of the UK and Ireland. All of us have lived, worked, and done business for many years. Our bank accounts are not closed for any shady deals. We know people who engage in nefarious activities. We don’t even know how they do it, and we are not interested.

“So, we welcome the invitation from the EFCC or ICPC, as Naomi’s nameless friend mentioned. My legal team has advised me to block him or her because this is the second time I’m getting such spam messages from the person. The EFCC is formed of educated people, not sentimentalists. They too, will use sense to check and to verify. In my opinion, it is also okay for the hired bullies to go to Oriyomi Hamzat, Sahara Reporters and Linda Ikeji as they have threatened.

“However, Yorubas say, “when a wicked person narrates a story, the judges will not always be wicked as well.” What is deplorable in Nigeria that we are all trying to change, is this issue of jungle justice, cyberbullying, gangster harassments and all underhand forms of criminal defamation. There are laws against such here in Europe, and this is one of the reasons many reasonable Nigerians in the Diaspora don’t want to do business back home. A dry morsel eaten in peace is usually better than rich food eaten in pain. I am not one to shout about injustice done to me. I usually just take the “Flight option”. I am just tired of running away from battles. I told myself that “whoever fights and runs away, will ultimately, return to face that fight or another one like it. But, frankly, I’m tired of running from fights”, said Dr Dixon.

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