Bank of Industry: Killing the Dream of Nigerian Youths -By Al-Amin Usman Funtua

Filed under: Expose Naija |

When I read a piece titled “BOI YES PROGRAMME, A BIG DECEIT, A WASTE OF PRECIOUS TIME” published in the Daily Trust newspaper of Thursday 22nd December, 2016 by Amira Abdullahi Ahmad where she cried out about the harsh conditions set out by the Bank of Industry in order to deny young aspiring entrepreneurs access to the federal government intervention fund by not disclosing some of the stringent conditions to the applicants at the initial stage. The write-up did not by any way deter me from focusing on fulfilling the loan conditions from the first to the final stages.

The Youth Entrepreneurship and Support Program (YES Program) as always claim by the Bank is aimed at addressing the worrisome phenomenon of youth unemployment in Nigeria by building their capacity and funding their business ideas largely through loan facilities.

Contrary to the notion of job creation through capacity building and funding of enterprising ideas, the program is gradually derailing from its classical foundation to not only a deceit, but fraud and a deliberate move to destroy the Nigerian young aspiring entrepreneurs. Government has come up with a very beautiful program in order support jobless Nigerian youth but Bank of Industry had turned it to be a cause for hate against the present administration. More than a year down the line, there has not been any significant achievement on the program which was designed to create about 36,000 jobs annually. The manner and approach by which the bank is handling the program is parallel to its set objectives. Readers might be surprised about my conclusion on the program, but, it is always logical to make reasonable conclusions based on personal experience because the push comes to shove.

I am a victim of the deceit and fraud by the Bank of Industry because I was made to spend over N200, 000.00 all in the course of accessing the loan which I saved during my National Youth Service at the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) headquarters, Abuja. My enthusiasm of becoming self-reliant after my service year started to gradually diminish due to the defraud conspired against gullible youths like me who invested all his savings; NYSC monthly allowances and that of my place of primary assignment just to meet up with the criterion set out by an institution of government.

Disappointedly, however, the lawful investment turns out to be what I call ‘organized fraud’ against credulous youth. Going down memory lane, I applied for the BOI YES Program and became one of the successful applicants. I participated in the 3months online training with the African Management Initiative and finally selected to advance to the next phase of the program which was in-class training. I was posted to Kano for the training which lasted for 5days. I started spending my life saving money in the course of the training by transporting myself from Abuja to Kano and paid for my 5-day hotel accommodation as well as dinner as breakfast and lunch were regularly served throughout the training.
I first considered the BOI YES Program as a stepping stone towards a greater future due to my passion in business because even during my boarding Secondary School days I was known for using my pocket money as capital to sell recharge cards. During the in-class training, officials of BOI shed more lights on the loan scheme and advised us to among other conditions register our businesses with Corporate Affairs Commission as an enterprise and secure a business premises as equity contribution.

I therefore, resolved to use the money I have been saving to embark on small scale business after my service year as an investment into the BOI YES loan as my equity contribution where I used it as follows:

  1. I secured a business premises at the sum of N 140,000.00/year on 16th November, 2016 immediately after the in-class training as advised by BOI officials during the training. The tenure of the rent is about to elapse in the next two months. The premises have since been inspected by the staff of the Bank of Industry.
  2. I registered and obtained a certificate of business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission on 14th December, 2016 at the rate of N15, 000.00. This is also part of the conditions set out by the Bank.
  3. I was asked to submit a copy of my National Identity Card or Driver’s License or International Passport as part of the conditions precedent to disbursement. As at that time I had only one means of identification; temporary national identity card which could not be accepted by the Bank. I quickly rushed to obtain an International Passport which cost me N30, 000.00.

Equally, the Bank after fulfilling the above requirements, demanded me to pay 1% appraisal fee which is mandatory and non-refundable. The 1% stood at N26, 800.00 and came at a time when I was exhausted and virtually left with nothing to sell-off to pay for the prescribed amount. I decided to approach my neighbour to borrow the N26, 800.00 which I promised to pay back immediately after disbursement of the loan.

Moreover, the time I devoted in processing the loan application made me lose my Manager-ship of an Internet Café in my hometown when the Managing Director of the Café noticed that the Café staggered due to my sudden on and off supervision.
Surprisingly, after all the hurdles, I was finally got my application rejected. The disqualification was based on the submission of my final statement of results (bachelor degree) not certificate which was still not ready. It is a known fact that certificates usually take longer period or years before it is issued. In spite of explanation rendered to the BOI by the Registrar of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in a letter dated 29th August 2017 which confirmed that the original certificate of my degree is still on process and it would be released as soon as it is ready. The Registrar therefore, implored the Bank to treat my case in view of the certification. One interesting thing is that the bank has forget that it has categorically posted on its official website (http://www.boi.ng/yes/) that it accepts alternatives to degree/HND certificates such as Final Statement of Results, Success Letter, Testimonial or other verifiable evidence of course completion.

The question here is; why can’t the bank allow all applicants to meet all the loan conditions before asking them to pay the non-refundable amount of 1% appraisal fee? The issue of securing a business premises as equity contribution by a jobless person who has no any source of income in this critical time and eventually suspend his application is a heartless decision. I cannot recall the number of times I was called by the Bank to travel a distance of more than 400kilometres just to sign some documents in their office.

Now that I have been made to spend the money I saved during my national service to start business immediately after the service, and being a jobless graduate with no any source of income. I am now left with no idea of what to do next than to wait until I get a job. I am now battling to pay back the money I borrowed from a neighbour which I paid to the Bank as appraisal fee.

I therefore, call on the federal government, the national assembly and other relevant authorities concern such as EFCC to check deeply into the activities of the Bank of Industry which always sells and advertises it heartless activities through propaganda using print and electronic media.

There are also some allegations trending in various social media platforms that the N10billion released to the Bank by the Federal Government for the purpose of the program has been mismanaged by the Bank. Some alleged that the fund has also been diverted by the bank for an undisclosed purpose allegedly invested for quick returns. I also call on the federal government to transfer the funds and the program as well to other agencies in order to achieve the desired objective. There are other government initiatives that needs to be adequately funded such as YouWiN, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) which always support young entrepreneurs as they PLAN, START and GROW their businesses, the initiative had been making unassailable contribution toward building the Nigerian economy through youth empowerment.

Al-Amin Usman Funtua,
Katsina State.
[email protected]
08026320880

 

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