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An initiative for university graduates promotes an upsetting claim, and drags the NUC into a gratuitous controversy

National University Commission 3 mins read

A viral WhatsApp post claims that the National Universities Commission, (NUC), is giving out loans to start-ups and established business owners.

The claim is misleading. The NUC is not giving loans to business start-up owners and businessmen.  

FULL TEXT

A viral WhatsApp post claims that the National Universities Commission, (NUC), is giving out loans to start-ups and established business owners.

The post, with an attached URL as registration link, further indicates that the loan ranges from N500, 000 to N1 Million naira.

The post reads, “Apply for NUC (national universities commission) loan initiative for start-up owners, business like minds, they will be give a loan range of N500,000 to N1,000,000. Here is the link: https://reg.smetoolkit.ng/program-apply/national-challenge-2020. Don’t miss this opportunity. Note: This is not a scam”

The NUC is a regulatory body under the Ministry of Education and is charged with the role of managing university education in Nigeria

VERIFICATION 

The National Universities Commission, (NUC), was established in 1962 as an advisory agency. It, however, became a statutory body in 1974 charged with the responsibility of managing university education in Nigeria, such as granting approval for the establishment of all tertiary institutions offering degree programmes in Nigerian as well as providing quality control for academic programmes run in Nigerian universities. It is currently a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Education.

A first check on the post revealed that the content is filled with grammatical errors which are unlikely to emanate from an agency which regulates university education in Nigeria. For instance, the post reads partly, “loan initiative for start-up owners, business like minds, they will be give a loan range of”

A simple rule of grammar states that any verb that follows “be” should be in the past participle. But here, the sentence violates this rule. Other errors abound in the sentence as well as others.

To verify the claim, The ICIR contacted the spokesperson of NUC, Ibrahim Usman, who denied the viral claim. He stated that the sole mandate of the body is the management of university education, and does not support business owners.

“It doesn’t make sense. What concerns us about a start-up or business owners? NUC is a regulatory body for university education in the country. Anything outside that is not within our mandate. We don’t have anything to do with those claims.  We don’t give money to anybody to start up anything.”

The ICIR also visited the website provided for “start-up owners” to apply for the loan, it turned out to be a national enterprise challenge application link for the year 2020.

According to the information provided on the website, the challenge is an initiative of the directors of entrepreneurship centres across Nigerian universities in partnership with the National Universities Commission (NUC) for students studying in a Nigerian University.

The initiative, launched to improve the entrepreneurial skills of Nigerian university students while still in school, requires participants to pitch their business ideas to the public to judge and for a grand jury constituted by the organisers.

 “Top three winners will be awarded grants to start or grow their venture as follows: 1st Prize – N1m, 2nd Prize – N750, 000; 3rd Prize – N500,000,” information on the website reads.

The application process requires users to create an account where their personal details and educational information are requested.

So, who is behind the website?

The ICIR conducted a domain check on the viral link and it revealed that one Peter Bankole registered the website through Upperlink Limited on 11th of May 2017 that was last updated on 21st of May 2020. 

The website was registered in the name of Example Inc. of Km 22, Lekki Epe Expressway, Ajah, Lagos, and has Bolaji Olawoye as its administrator.

CONCLUSION

Based on the above findings, the claim that the NUC is giving out loans to start-up or business owners is not true. In addition, the NUC is not providing loans for start-up or business owners. Rather, it is an initiative conceived to challenge Nigerian university students with veritable business ideas to try their luck at entrepreneurship.  The post is also misleading.

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