23 May 2019

Nigeria Lost U.S.$1bn to MSMEs Related Corruption in 5 Years - Report

Nigeria has lost over $1 billion to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises-related corruption in the last five years, a report has said.

This was revealed in the report titled, "Stolen Dreams: How Corruption Negates Governments Assistance to Nigeria's Small Businesses" unveiled in Abuja yesterday.

The report was unveiled alongside with another report titled, "State of Youth Unemployment" in Nigeria.

Presenting the reports, the Lead Partner of Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative (SEEDi), Mr. Celestine Okeke, said the $1 billion lost to MSME-related corruption between 2014 and 2018 exceeded Nigeria's capital expenditure on health and education combined over the same period.

SEEDi is a civic tech organisation working with partners to identify and address the challenges small businesses in the Agriculture and ICT sectors are faced with.

Mr. Okeke said civil servants, unscrupulous business people, legislators and even some presidential appointees appear to be complicit.

"Anticorruption agencies have shown little interest in investigating this increasingly prevalent form of corruption," he said.

The report, supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), outlined some corruption-prone Nigerian Government MSME spending, including the N156 billion ($433.3 million) for constituency projects from 2016 to 2018, N39 billion ($236.4 million) CBN development fund for MSMEs, N10 billion ($27.8 million) cassava bread initiative and N153 billion ($4.3 million) NDE programme.

"Nigerian officials use populist, private sector friendly rhetoric to justify new MSME assistance programme even though they are drain on public finances because corruption and mismanagement negates their intended impact," the report stated.

Mr. Okeke called for more transparent implementation of these funds targeted at assisting small businesses.

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