By Racheal Ishaya
Abuja – The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, says the ministry is investigating allegations of fraudulent beneficiaries of the YouWin entrepreneurship programme.
A statement by the Ministry’s Director of Information, Mr Salisu Dambatta, in Abuja on Friday, quoted Adeosun as saying that some allegations were received from an anonymous whistleblower which provided documentary evidence of irregularities for 10 cases.
According to the statement, the minister ordered an internal investigation to determine the veracity of the allegation and report the findings back to her for necessary action.
“The substance of the allegations was that an awardee was the child of a former Director in the Ministry and there were a number of cases where married couples each benefitted.
“This raised concerns about the integrity of the original selection process which took place in 2014.
“The position of the Ministry is that investigations are ongoing under the Presidential Initiative on Continues Audit (PICA) which will review each suspected case to determine whether any irregularity occurred.
” In the interim, disbursements of this batch have been suspended, “she said.
Adeosun said that the YouWin programme, which was a programme of the former administration, currently had a legally binding commitments of grants to 1, 500 entrepreneurs, running into multi-millions of naira.
“The administration decided that those commitments should be honoured.
“It was in that regard that a batch of awardees under YouWin 3 was submitted to the Minister of Finance for cash disbursement totaling N611, 821, 910 million,” she said.
Adeosun said that the current administration had initiated a review of the YouWin programme with a view to ensuring its sustainability.
She said that the review had so far proved that among other limitations, awardees were overly focused on the grant aspect of the programme.
She said that few had been able to secure other forms of funding to grow their businesses despite each receiving up to N10 million in grants.
“In that regard, the Ministry redesigned the programme and relaunched it as YouWinConnect to focus more on continuous enterprise education.
“This will build the capacity of young entrepreneurs across range of disciplines.
“By so doing, YouWinConnect expects to develop entrepreneurs who can attract funding from wide range of sources currently available and take advantage of new funding sources, “she said.
NAN recalls that the YouWin programme is an innovative business plan competition aimed at job creation by encouraging and supporting aspiring youths in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas.
The accomplishments of the 1,200 YouWiN awardees were celebrated at the Presidential Villa on April 12, 2012.
YouWin Women was the second edition of the entrepreneurial scheme which was designed for only female entrepreneurs aged 45 years or less.
The third edition, which supported both male and female entrepreneurs in Nigeria, in 2014 announced the names of 1500 as beneficiaries.