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Previous FG’s youths empowerment schemes programmed to be fraud driven—Survey

A recently published report of the Business Hilights Economic Intelligence Team (BHEIT) has revealed that efforts to identify any of the youth’s empowerment and poverty alleviation schemes of the former administration were designed to use the jobless youths as a conduit to stash away government funds.

The report said the worst amongst them was Sure-P which was characterized by massive embezzlements of funds by top officials. The level of fraud in the scheme forced the present government to scrap it.

According to the report, all most every government has used the phrase ‘Poverty Alleviation’ to loot the highest fund from government without any trace.

Even before the scrapping, the chairman, Dr. Chris Kalade had to resign his appointment as a face saving strategy after it become clear that fraud was another for the programme.

YES-P is another failed federal government’s poverty alleviation programme that impoverished many participating youths and died a natural death with several scares on the bodies of youths and women that participated.

On Monday thus week, the Federal Government, on Monday, accused a former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, and two others of diverting the sum of N9.79bn, part of which was meant for police reform programme and Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme SURE-P.

The funds were allegedly diverted between 2012 and 2015 while Suswam was the governor of Benue State.

The allegations are contained in the 32 fraud and money laundering charges filed against Suswam and two others on Monday.

Others named as defendants in the charges, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja and marked FHC/ABJ/CR/48/2017, are a former Commissioner for Benue State under the Suswam’s administration, Mr. Omadachi Oklobia; and the then Accountant, Benue State Government House Administration, Mrs. Janet Aluga.

Only recently, whereas there are hopes that poverty alleviation schemes of the present government are not likely to go the same way, an indication emerged that You-Win may have joined the bandwagon of conduit pipes.

An ongoing probe, ordered by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has uncovered a massive fraud in the Federal Government Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria programme.

Though the panel of investigation on the matter is yet to turn in their report, facts have emerged that they have discovered that some senior civil servants gave out or facilitated slots worth between N7m and N10m each to their spouses, children and friends.

Some of these awardees, the source said, would not have qualified for the grants if they were not aided by their “connections” within and outside the ministry.

Business Hilights recalls that 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.

In fact, there are underground forces even from within the ministry that are currently working for the disruption of the investigative panel so as to cause the suspension or sudden end of the probe.

It was also discovered that the YouWin project had been dogged by allegations of nepotism and underhand dealings by top civil servants for years.

Last year, some YOUWIN awardees had protested against the Muhammadu Buhari administration, alleging neglect.

But after the protest, a Director of Information at the Ministry of Information and Culture, Na’inna Dambatta, said a total of 18,000 young entrepreneurs were trained in management and business skills under the YouWin programme.

He added that 3,900 of the trainees, including 1,200 women, got non-repayable grants ranging from N1m to N10m.

Continuing, Dambatta noted that “The third edition of the programme, which is still running with 1,500 beneficiaries, has received the sum of N11.2bn in funding. So far, grants totalling N7.4bn have been disbursed to the awardees”.

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