A massive fraud has been uncovered in the Federal Government Youth Enterprise With Innovation In Nigeria programme, YouWin, following an ongoing probe ordered by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.
The Punch quoted a reliable source in the ministry of finance as saying that investigators had already discovered that some senior civil servants gave out or facilitated slots worth between N7m and N10m each to their spouses, children and friends.
The source, who insisted that the probe had not been concluded by the investigators, added that their initial findings were so worrisome that the minister had decided that the entire programme should be restructured.
“The fraud uncovered in the programme made the minister to restructure the programme and turn its focus into enterprise education,” the source said.
The source continued: “Actually, allegations were persistent that there was racketeering. Some of the applicants, especially those who lost out, claimed that some of the winners simply copied and pasted the plans of other applicants in order to win.
“Some of them also said they were asked by some civil servants to use specific consultants in order to be considered.
“Contrary to the rules of the game, awards were also given to some entrepreneurs that were operating outside Nigeria. In fact, some of these people simply took the cash and migrated to foreign countries.”
The source added: “Some of the members of the team used it to set up friends and family as awardees. In one case, a husband and his wife used the same address and pocketed N10m each. In another instance, a son of one of the directors in the ministry was given N10m.
“When the (current) administration got into power, one of the first things that the ministry did was to ask for the BVN of awardees. It was an attempt to find out if some of the awardees got more than a single slot and whether senior civil servants awarded slots to their family members.”
It is very clear now that the BVN verification, which exposed the fraud in the programme and initiated the probe, will lead to the indictment of some senior civil servants.
An original initiative of the ministry which began during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, YouWin was conceived to help youth entrepreneurs grow existing businesses and create employment.