The President Muhammadu Buhari’s government under the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) disbursed N762,730,000 grants to 13,160 beneficiaries but could not produce the names and addresses of the people.
The 2018 government’s audit report, obtained by SaharaReporters, revealed that SMEDAN, which disbursed the grants, failed to document “the names of the micro enterprises, physical addresses, phone numbers, electronic mail and key contact persons.”
SaharaReporters learnt that the N762 million was disbursed under the Conditional Grant Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises growth across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
SaharaReporters gathered that the benefiting states were Benue, Katsina, Gombe, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi and Oyo.
The SMEDAN authorities in the audit report by the 2018 Auditor-General of the Federation’s Report of the Accounts of the Federation of Nigeria, had stated that 13,160 micro enterprises selected from the six pilot states benefitted from the grants.
The government’s audit report noted that SMEDAN, however, could not produce the names of enterprises it disbursed the monies to, while asking the Director-General to account for the N762 million grants and recover the same to the treasury of the Federal Government.
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.”