he federal ministry of industry, trade and investment says the $160 million World Bank growth and employment (GEM) project has led to the creation of over 26,000 jobs in its intervention sectors.

Reacting to allegations of irregularities in the project, Bisi Daniels, communications adviser to the minister, said the programme has been a success.

There had been allegations of fraud levelled against the minister with regards to the implementation of the GEM project which had kicked off in July 2013.

A house of representatives committee on petroleum resources (upstream), had alleged that Okechukwu Enelamah, minister of industry, trade and investment, diverted $35 million out of the fund to an illegal small and medium enterprise fund.

“Contrary to the allegations GEM, a USD$160M World Bank-funded project, being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), has been a success story,” the statement read.

“It also offers more direct support to firms channelled through a platform- called the Business Innovation and Growth (BIG) Platform – to provide various training, technical assistance and grant schemes.”

The project supports micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) operating in ICT, entertainment, tourism and hospitality, manufacturing, and construction sectors.

Explaining the rationale for restructuring the project, the ministry said the World Bank team had modified its existing equity window to a small and medium scale enterprises (SME) investment fund, which was geared at “boosting growth, creating jobs and increasing entrepreneurship”.

The restructuring according to the statement, brought about “new and leadership, better and faster disbursement of funds, more allocation directly to the SMEs”.

Listing some of the achievements of the project, Daniels said: “GEM led the development of the first Nigeria Leather Policy. The Policy has been validated by stakeholders and approved by the Federal Executive Council

“The Project supported the Entertainment Industry by funding two on-line music distribution companies with a view to reduce piracy and improving the income of content developers in the Music Industry.”