Fact Check

Nigerian government not offering national youth empowerment fund

Claim: A viral WhatsApp message claims the Federal Government is offering money to Nigerians under the National Youth Empowerment Fund. 

The Nigerian government is not offering national youth empowerment funds. The viral message is a fraudulent method used by ill-meaning individuals to entice and extort money from unsuspecting members of the public.

Full Text

The Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria has, over the years, introduced a number of initiatives to empower Nigerians, in an effort to curtail poverty and accelerate growth.

Examples of federal empowerment initiatives include the N-Power programme for unemployed youths and the school feeding programme which the federal government under President Muhammad Buhari started in 2016. 

Recently, a message is making the rounds on WhatsApp, with the claim that a National Youth Empowerment Fund application form for 2022 is out.

According to the message, the empowerment fund, which is supposedly the quickest to apply for, is now out for all bonafide Nigerian citizens who need helping hands in their various businesses and education.

This fund, according to the viral message, has a vision of giving out N150,000 to N550,000 grants to every citizen under the age of 13-65 years from 2022 to 2024.

The screenshot of the viral National Youth Empowerment Funds application message

The message also claims payment for the month of April is currently ongoing.

Due to the virality of this claim and the possible  harm it could cause, we chose to verify it. 

Verification

DUBAWA carried out a keyword search on the youth empowerment fund mentioned in the message but did not find any. Our findings led to the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES) but there are no calls for applications at the moment.

The original P-YES was an initiative started by the current administration in 2020, Nairametrics reported. As noted on the official website, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation oversees the scheme, which is coordinated by the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the president on Youth and Student Affairs.

The screenshot of the P-YES official website

Inherent red flags

Interestingly, an analysis of the link on Domainbigdata, a web service used to verify domain’s ownership, reveals multiple users have reported the website for abuses.

Analysis of the website carried out on Domainbigdata

The existence of phony testimonial remarks was another obvious red flag. Internet con artists frequently use this method to draw potential victims into their cave. The links to the supposed comments are not clickable, yet they nevertheless function as a device intended to deceive users.

Screenshot of the website showing the comments of supposed beneficiaries

DUBAWA also found that the flags of South Africa, Ivory Coast, Ghana, The Gambia, Nigeria and Uganda are visible on the landing page. This implies that the creator of the page is targeting African countries for his/her mischievous plans.

The screenshot of the website with some African countries flags

The link to the website is also a ‘Bitly URL’ website. Bitly URL was founded in 2008 as a link shortening and management application. Bitly shortens more than 600 million links for social networking, text messaging, and email every month. It was created with the intention of making it easier for entrepreneurs to post links on social media, attract clients, and sell their products or services. 

However, charlatans are increasingly employing Bitly URLs to disseminate fake information and increase traffic to their websites.

The acclaimed link is a Bitly URL

Apparently, the message went viral on WhatsApp due to the conditions and instructions on the website.

Scammers ask the applicants to share to friends or groups to get the supposed funds

As shown in the screenshot above, the alleged website asks visitors to trade further information with other users before accessing the grant. Con artists frequently use this tactic to entice people to visit their websites.

Conclusion

Our findings show the Nigerian government is not giving out N150,000 to N550,000 to Nigerian youth under the  National Youth Empowerment Funds.

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