The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has stated that women should be given more opportunities to benefit from federal government's economic empowerment programmes in Rivers State.
Amaechi made this assertion during the Women and Youth Empowerment Programme (WYEP), which was held in Rivers State by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and the Office of the Minister of State for Labour and Employment.
He said that the WYEP would enable 5000 persons to receive loans that would range between N100,000 and N5 million without interest charges.
"What it means is that both male and female will receive this money to do business. Let 3000 out of the 5000 beneficiaries be women because they are good managers.
"I didn't say free loan. I said interest free loan. It means that you'll pay back. We must see your business plan or proposal. We must see how it works and know whether we'll be able to recover the money. We say no interest so that you will not be put under pressure," Amechi said.
The minister expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the initiative that would empower Rivers people with business loans and vocational skills acquisition.
"We are grateful to the Honourable Minister of State for Labour; the Director General of NDE and the President. They have told me how much they are bringing N750 million to Rivers State. So, anybody who cannot manage it cannot manage anything... it's the first lesson we should learn. That's why I said out of the 5000 names, we should look for 3000 women, not because they are women, but because they manage better.
"Then there are 30 persons that will be trained per Local Government Area by the NDE and they will be attached to artisans to work with and the Federal Government will be paying you directly at the end of the month," he said.
Amaechi appealed that the intervention programme should be extended to every qualified persons irrespective of the political parties. "Let's involve everybody. Don't do party politics because the President's intention is not just to lift APC members, but to lift PDP members as well as other Nigerians. Here in Rivers State, there are as many PDP members that are hungry, as there are APC members that are hungry. Let's carry everyone along," he said.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, said the greatest employment is self-employment. He expressed the President's passion to empower Nigerians, particularly the very poor through the scheme.
"This is one of the very many programmes by which the President has given us marching orders to ensure that millions of people are lifted out of poverty every year. In the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the first question the President asks is how many jobs will this memo create for Nigerians? That is how concerned the President is about the people. This is the first government in so many years that is so concerned about the people in the lowest rung of the ladder and that is why the President has targeted the very poor of the poor. This is why we are giving out loans for people to start macro, small and medium scale businesses.
"The Honourable Minister of Transportation insisted that we must come to Rivers State. Don't forget that there are states that have not received. It is the doggedness and tenacity of the minister that has brought us here today," Keyamo said.
Similarly, the Director General of the NDE, Dr. Nasir Mohammed Ladan, said: "What we are going to do today is only the beginning of what we would do in Rivers State. Our target is 25,000 and we will achieve it."