By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
In its bid at empowering wives of soldiers, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) has commenced an empowerment scheme, which will see them set up value chain poultry farms.
Commandant of NDA, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade while declaring the 3-day training seminar for the soldiers wives at the Major General Joe Garbage Hall at the academy on Monday, he said that already, they have a market waiting for their poultry products.
“In NDA I spend about N40 to N50m monthly feeding cadets. We go outside to get poultry.
I will just instruct the kitchen staff before they go out to buy poultry products, eggs and others they should first buy from you.
“They are not buying from you because you are soldiers wives but because your products are good and competitive,” he said.
The Commandant explained that they would not be buying from them out of sympathy, but because their products are good.
“We will set up a team for account to manage it properly. The beginning may be rough, you are just knowing yourselves. Among yourselves you will appoint managers who will report to you, you all will be like shareholders.
Also in his opening remarks, the NDA Commandant said that the issue of how to productively engage soldiers wives in a way that they would not only support families, but to develop capacity that would help them set up business when their husbands retire from the Army has since been on their minds.
“I am very sure it is not going to be money down the drains. The worst thing that can happen is after efforts, the business collapses, you have no one to blame but yourselves. That is why I said you should form groups.
“If you give people N10m years from now, only about 10 per cent will still have that amount. But if people are empowered with skills of business, it will forever remain with them,” he added.
He explained that the project is costing the academy about N10m, but was optimistic that it is a business that if they are committed, they would be able to earn income steadily.
“The company training you will be there to guide you. If you get it well, this business will grow into a big business and we will all benefit,” he admonished.
The commandant recalled that when he was the GOC of 1 Div, his friend invited him to Sokoto, a businessman, whose father died and left behind a farm, who initially abandoned the farm.
“He reformatted his brain and went back to the farm. Every year he makes a nothing less than N700m. He has expanded and increased the value chain of the farm,” he stressed.
He told the women that besides supplying the cadets, Ribadu Cantonment alone is big market.
“The loan is not free, you will pay back interest free, so that the revolving funds can also reach out to other groups.
“If I leave here tomorrow, I want to come back and see you waxing strong. If you start supplying NDA, no commandant can cancel it because he knows you are helping soldiers families.
” If any commandant cancels it, I know you will protest. On this note, I want to declare this poultry seminar for barracks wives open,” he said.
Speaking with newsmen on the sidelines of the seminar, he said that what they are doing is in furtherance of national agenda to empower people by keying into Presidential initiative.
“We decided to create a fund for empowerment skills. Ribadu Cantonment, Afaka and other communities is a huge market. We spend about N40 to N50m every month feeding our cadets.
“We hope at the end of the programme the women would have been empowered. I Implore the women to remain diligent and manage the resources well.
“It is interest free, we will set a good management team to ensure that they will pay back. If you call it a grant, they would feel like there is nothing to worry. As the business grows, they will benefit,” he added.