The governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, recently organised an Economic and Investment Summit where Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and other important dignitaries were in attendance.Yekini Jimoh writes
Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, recently organised an economic and investment summit which took place at the Glass House, Government House in Lokoja.
The summit attracted eminent personalities such as Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, the governor of Kebbi, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, the deputy governor of Edo, Mr. Philip Shaibu and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Others were, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Professor Steven Ocheni, the Ooni Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi,and many others.
Osinbajo in his address said the federal government had supported the 36 states of the federation with N1.19 trillion naira as at September 2017.
He said the funds were made available to enable the states meet the challenges of shortage of funds for the execution of programmes in their respective states.
He also disclosed that the funds had enabled some state governments to embark on capital expenditures.
According to him, the funds were made available through the excess crude account, the Paris Club refund, loans among others to the states.
He explained that parts of the funds were the entitlements of the state that they legally had access to, while some of them were loans to be repaid.
The Vice-President noted that the present administration had the highest capital expenditures in two years, adding that these were evident in the ongoing railway line construction, road constructions, hydro power projects.
He said the summit came at the right time that the country was trying to reduce its dependence on oil and increase its non oil income with the promotion of agriculture and the abundant solid mineral resources across the country.
Osinbajo said Kogi State is strategically located with vast mineral resources that could make it a hub of commercial activities, adding that the summit was capable of reinvigorating and inspiring the people.
The state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, said the summit was packaged to change the identity of the 27 years old state from a civil service state to an industrialised one.
He said his administration had in the last two years prepared the ground for economic and industrial breakthroughs for the state by solving the problems that had been hindering economic growth in the state.
Bello said the state was now safe for investors and investments, adding that the problem of security had been tackled.
He said: "We are changing the toga of a civil service state to an economic and commercially viable one and we want investors to collaborate with us and contribute to the prosperity of the state.
"Kogi State is now open for business, we want to be signing MoU, I invite the private sector to collaborate with us in our bid to develop the state, Kogi State is for serious business."
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Fayemi, in his presentation, said the bulk of the revenue of Kogi State should be internally generated based on the abundant mineral resources in the state.
He however said mining was not a business that should be tied to the tenure of any executive as it is a long term investment that outlived the maximum two term tenure of any executive.
Also at the Confluence Stadium, Lokoja at the launching of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Clinics, the Vice-President reaffirmed its commitment to give adequate support to micro and small business owners in the country in order to grow their businesses.
Osinbajo said that the federal government believed that the micro and small businesses were the way to make Nigeria grow, saying "we will support you all the way to achieve this goal."
"One of the major concerns of our President is the welfare of all the young people especially the youths, market women, artisans, traders and the very hardworking people of Kogi and this country.
"The reason we set up MSME Clinic and the Social Investment Programme (SIP) is because we care about women, young people, traders, market women, physically challenged; every one of our programme is aimed at giving you a better life.
"I want to say that this is why you do not need to know anybody to benefit from any of the programmes that have been established by President Buhari and his government.
"You do not need to know a senator, governor, Vice-President or President; the SIP programme is completely fair to everyone. Once you are eligible and you apply, we will give you.
"That is the kind of country we want to establish where there is no corruption, where there is no need for man knows man, or woman knows woman
"A country where you are a Nigerian and you are entitled to all the government programmes; that is the kind of a country that President Buhari wants to establish, free from corruption.
"I am extremely happy to be here today; I bring you greetings from President Muhammadu Buhari," Osinbajo said.
The Vice-President congratulated Governor Bello, for the outstanding work that he had been doing in Kogi and in particular the various outstanding programmes for widows, market women and the vulnerables.
"Here today, I have been told that there are over 800 exhibitors and over 20, 000 participants including market women, youth corps members, widows, manufacturers, artisans, among others.
"When I go back to Abuja, I will be able to tell the President what I saw in Kogi, you are hardworking, diligent and not beggars. We will support and provide for you, we will do all we can to ensure that you are successful.
"I have come here with BOI, CAC, NAFGDAC, SON, BOA, SMEDAN, and so many others of our organisations who are ready to work with you and help to grow your small businesses.
"We will make sure that everybody who is eligible and registered will get their loans, and that is why I am here personally on behalf of the President to make sure all things are going well," Osinbajo said.
This is even as the Development Finance Institution (DFI) announced that it had disbursed over N295 million in the process of executing the programme in the state.
Osinbajo, stated that the programme was conceived to take care of the interest of the people at the base of socio-economic pyramid across the country.
He said some of the beneficiaries who are majorly traders, artisans, farmers and market women who plied their trade in these target areas, were eligible to access loan under the programme to grow their businesses.
Osinbajo urged the over 5,000 beneficiaries in Kogi State not to consider the loan as a national cake, but that which requires repayment so that other people can benefit.
The Vice-President restated the commitment of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to growing the economy of the country through industrialisation and development of the nation's human capital base.
The state governor, Bello expressed gladness that the Vice-President himself has seen the locally produced items by Kogi people, saying he was sure that the federal government would give them full support.
"We will ensure that all of you are assisted, so that everything you are doing you can progress steadily.
"When we give such money to you, you will use it to do business, so that you will pay back, and other people can benefit from it. We are teaching you how to fish by growing your business," Bello said.
Also speaking on the sidelines of the event, the GEEP Marketmoni Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Uzoma Nwagba, said the programme was packaged to address the issue of lack of access to finance by those operating with the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sub-sector.
Nwagba added that, "the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) space, especially the micro part of it accounts for close to 23 milllion Nigerians. These are people who have no access to credit from the commercial banks.
"We have a lot of market women, artisans youths, even farmers who can't access credit to build their businesses. We therefore need a more innovative way to provide credit to these groups of people.
"The federal government has the mandate to meet the needs of the people at the base of the pyramid and that is why the present administration has come up with its social intervention programmes of which GEEP Marketmoni is an integral part."
On the involvement of the BoI in the scheme, Nwagba, who represented the bank's Executive Director, Micro Enterprise Directorate, Toyin Adeniji, said the federal government leveraged on its expertise and long years of working in the target sector of the economy.
He noted that since the programme commenced, the bank had been working diligently and professionally to deliver on this mandate across the states of the federation.
According to him, to be eligible to draw from the loan scheme, interested person must belong to a registered association or a cooperative, has a valid BVN, an existing business, and must be nominated by the leader of the association.
Asked if the people needed to go through any God-father to benefit from the loan, he noted that it was completely insulated against any interference.
"You do not need to know anybody to apply for a GEEP Marketmoni. You don't need to have any connection with senators or any other senior government functionary. It is completely insulated against any form of interference."
Earlier, Mr. Adoga Ibrahim, Spexial Adviser to Governor on Multilateral Donor Agencies and Special Projects/Focal Person on SIP, said MSME Clinic was designed to give hope to the hopeless people of Kogi in particular and Nigeria in general.
Ibrahim added that the MSME would bring about significant and sustainable GDP growth, employment generation and increase local productivity, thereby reducing import bills on food and essential products that could be produced locally.