Nigeria: Factcheck - Is Govt's N3.18 Billion Payroll Support Imaginary?

27 November 2020

A Twitter user, Dr Biobele (@DublingreenB) claimed that the 101,567 beneficiaries of the N3.18 billion payroll support of the Federal Government were non-existent and imaginary. Another Twitter user claimed that 200 million Nigerians would have gotten N15 million each from the N3.18 billion the Federal Government said was disbursed to the 101,567 beneficiaries.

Verdict: FALSE. The Federal Government has debunked the claim that the beneficiaries are non-existent and imaginary. Testimonies of several beneficiaries of the payroll support also discredit the claim. It is also false that 200 million Nigerians would have gotten N15 million each from the N3.18 billion said to have been disbursed. If shared among 200 million Nigerians, N3.18 billion would amount to N15.9 per Nigerian.

Full Text

The Federal Government recently revealed that it had disbursed N3.18 billion as payroll support for 101,667 employees in different firms across the country under its Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Survival Fund to cushion the effect of coronavirus pandemic on businesses.

Reacting to the revelation, a Twitter user, Dr Biobele (@DublingreenB) claimed that the 101,567 beneficiaries of the N3.18 billion payroll support of the Federal Government were non-existent, imaginary and made up.

Dr Biobele tweeted that the beneficiaries were non-existent, imaginary, made up beneficiaries. That N3.18bn is in a few highly placed politicians' accounts, if truly 100,000 Nigerians got over 3billion naira from the government, trust me we will all know, we would have heard of it from amongst us the people."

Dr Biobele's tweet claiming the beneficiaries are imaginary

Similarly, doubting the authenticity of the beneficiaries, another Twitter user, Wonder World (@Confide0406) claimed that 200 million Nigerians would have gotten N15 million each from the N3.18 billion the Federal Government said was disbursed to the 101,567 beneficiaries.

"You distributed 3.18bn and we can't see it.

What is Nigeria's total estimated population 200m, that is 15m each Nigerian. Also means 1m for each Nigerian for 15 months including the president and even those saddled with the sharing responsibility.

Abeg I can't keep on with this," the user tweeted using @Confide0406.

A claim that 200m Nigerians can get N15m each from N3.18bn

Brief on FG's Payroll Support for MSMEs

The Payroll Support Scheme was initiated by the Federal Government and it was aimed at MSMEs adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The scheme would provide Payroll Support to a maximum of 10 employees per qualifying MSME.

Speaking during the 2020 edition of the MSMEs Awards held recently, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said workers would benefit from the Payroll Support Scheme the present regime has put in place for MSMEs to cushion the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

Osinbajo said the survival fund would help provide payroll support to MSMEs with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 staff members.

He explained that the MSMEs that qualify for the fund would make available their payroll for verification by the government.

"The target beneficiaries of this scheme will include private schools, hotels, road transport workers, creative industries and others. The verification process will be very rigorous and painstaking," the Vice President said.

So, how true is the claim that the beneficiaries are non-existent, imaginary and made up?

Verification

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, has debunked with videos and names the claim that the beneficiaries of the Payroll Support Scheme are fictitious.

Akande posted the video of a beneficiary from Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Chimaobi Nwachukwu, in which he testified to have received the payroll support.

In the video, Nwachukwu said, "As a beneficiary to this FG wonderful programme, I want to say thank you for this great opportunity, now I feel more a Nigerian than ever."

A tweet with video of a beneficiary of payroll support

Akande further disclosed another video and name of a beneficiary, Offor Modestus Ogadinma from Mushin, Lagos State with two workers paid.

Meanwhile, checks showed that several beneficiaries of the Payroll Support have shared their testimonies on social media.

For instance, a Twitter user, Chuks Ogbonnaya (@Chukogbo) testified that his spouse's workers got the salary support.

"I can testify that 4 of my wife's employees benefited from this. She applied through the Enugu State SME Centre in October and they got paid N30k each this November. I didn't take it seriously until I saw the alert. Business name is Blossom & Jenny," he tweeted.

Ogbonnaya's testimony

Olusoga Owoeye (@olusogaowoeye) tweeted that two of his staff in Lagos were paid.

"I was told last week that 3 of our staff received 30k each in our small business in Lagos," he tweeted.

Owoeye's testimony

Abdulazeez Abdulsalam (@Abdulaz93643945) confirmed that he got the payroll support, as well as his spouse and neighbours.

"Myself, my older brother, my brother's wife and 5 of my neighbours. We all received the 30k. Really grateful," he tweeted.

Abdulsalam's tearimony

In addition, the Special Assistant to the Vice President on Micro-Small and Medium and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs), Mr Tola Johnson, debunked the claim that the beneficiaries are fake.

When contacted on the claim, Mr Johnson, who is a member of the Steering Committee of the MSME Survival Fund, said the Federal Government has a comprehensive data of all beneficiaries, but would not be appropriate to release their names and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN).

He said 25,000 employees from Lagos, 17,000 from Kano, 16,000 from Abia, and 13,000 across other states have so far benefited from the payroll support.

"We have real testimonies. We have people that have collected this money. It's touching their lives and their families. We'll keep ramping up the numbers," he said.

Meanwhile, a simple arithmetic showed that 200 million Nigerians would not receive N15 million each from the N3.18 billion disbursed to the 101,567 beneficiaries by the Federal Government.

N3,180,000,000/200,000,000 people =N15.9 per person

Conclusion

The claim that the 101,567 beneficiaries of the N3.18 billion payroll support of the Federal Government were non-existent, imaginary and made up is false. The Federal Government has debunked the claim. Testimonies of several beneficiaries of the payroll support also discredit the claim. It is also false that 200 million Nigerians would have gotten N15 million each from the N3.18 billion said to have been disbursed. If shared among 200 million Nigerians, N3.18 billion would amount to N15.9 per Nigerian.

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