Abuja — President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday inaugurated the National Council on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with a mandate to boost the small-scale industry as an important sector of the economy that works for all Nigerians.
The Council is chaired by Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo and has Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, as Vice Chairman of its Technical Implementation Committee.
Membership also includes six state Governors representing the six geopolitical zones of the country and representatives of private and public organisations, with the Small and Medium Enterprises Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) serving as the secretariat.
Jonathan said at the inauguration in the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, that the oc-
casion marked an important turning point in his administration's drive to implant MSMEs as core and essential elements of economic transformation.
"The creation of this Council is a testament to the commitment of this administration to all inclusive economic growth.
"Our commitment is to meet the aspirations of our people and in doing so, ensuring rapid economic development, benefitting all our citizens, North, South, East, or West.
"Our focus will remain to build an economy that works for all Nigerians, and the MSME Council we inaugurate today, is essential to achieving this goal.
"The growth of MSMEs is one that is very important in any nation that aspires towards self-sufficiency.
"MSMEs are the innovators, the wealth creators, as well as employment generators. Every MSME today has the potential of growing to the large corporation of tomorrow, and that is why we are now backing the initiative with the creation of this Council," the President said.
He stressed that over the past years, Nigeria had demonstrated its determination to the rest of the world to become one of the leading global economic engines by achieving a reasonable level of macroeconomic stability even in the face of global recession.
"As we build a strong economy and attract unprecedented investments, we must urgently address critical economic issues of inclusion and wealth distribution.
"I repeat, we must ensure that this economy works for all our people. That we indeed become a land of opportunity for all, and a land where hopes become reality regardless of who you are, where you hail from or what beliefs you hold.
"This our land must be where our youth have jobs and our people can take their economic destinies in their hands.
"It must be a land where poverty is eradicated, and our people can live in dignity.
"This is the Nigeria we all must work to make possible and the MSME Council has a great role to play to make this a reality," Jonathan said.
Speaking to journalists later, Aganga described the inauguration of the Council as a "game changer" and pledged that it would provide a level-playing ground for all to benefit of its activities.
He pointed out that of the about 17 to 20 million MSMEs that exist in the country, only 8 per cent of these have access to finance from organised financial institutions, a situation the newly inaugurated Council intends to change.