President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), distributed N762,730,000 in grants to 13,160 people but was unable to provide the recipients’ names and addresses.
SMEDAN, which disbursed the grants, failed to establish “the names of the micro enterprises, physical addresses, phone numbers, electronic mail, and key contact persons,” according to a 2018 government audit report acquired by SaharaReporters.
The N762 million was disbursed across the country’s six geopolitical zones under the Conditional Grant Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprise Growth, according to SaharaReporters.
Benue, Katsina, Gombe, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, and Oyo were among the states that benefited, according to SaharaReporters.
According to the SMEDAN officials, 13,160 micro firms from the six pilot states benefited from the grants, according to the 2018 Auditor-General of the Federation’s Report on the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria.
According to the government’s audit report, SMEDAN was unable to give the identities of the firms to whom the funds were disbursed, prompting the Director-General to account for the N762 million grants and return them to the Federal Government’s purse.
The audit report partly reads, “Unsubstantiated Payment of Conditional grant to micro enterprises – N762,730,000; the provision of Financial Regulation 603 states that, ‘All vouchers shall contain full particulars of each service, such as dates, numbers, quantities, distances and rates, so as to enable them to be checked without reference to any other documents and will invariably be supported will relevant documents such as local purchase orders, invoices, special letters of authority, timesheets, etc.’
“We observed during the audit that, the sum of N762,730,000.00 was disbursed through various financial institutions to beneficiaries of Conditional Grant Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises growth in the six geopolitical zones.
“However, vital information such as names of micro enterprises, physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and key contact persons was not made available for verification, in contravention of extant laws and regulations.
“This infraction was due to the failure of the Director-General to strictly comply with extant laws and regulations, especially as it relates to providing vital information and attaching key supporting documents to payment vouchers.
“The risk is that the agency may carry out expenditures without providing vital information and supporting documents thereby exposing the government to possibility of fraud and ultimately loss of funds.”
SaharaReporters was told that when the audit department contacted SMEDAN, it hurriedly provided only the list of beneficiaries in Akwa Ibom State, but “the attachment made for Akwa Ibom did not contain the amounts disbursed to each of the beneficiaries and their signatures showing completion of transaction. Their response therefore did not adequately address the audit issue raised.”
The report said further, “The Director General is required to provide full list of the beneficiaries containing their location in the six pilot states i.e. names, amount disbursed, contact addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and signatures showing evidence of collection of this fund to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation. Otherwise he should account for the sum of N762,730,000.00 supposedly disbursed to the financial institutions on behalf of the beneficiaries.”