By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
The Director General of Senator Gershom Bassey campaign organisation,. Barr. Asuquo Ekpo Ada, has described the on-going empowerment programme by his principal as a role model as it is entirely different from most empowerment programmes.
This is so because of its well designed and packaged outline aimed at bringing his constitiuents out of the woods and to learn a new way of life by venturing into businesses as against what it used to be before, seating down to wait for alms from their representatives.
He stated this in Calabar while speaking to chief executives of media outfits on the concept of Senator Gershom Bassey’s empowerment programme which is ongoing across the seven local government areas under his constituency.
According to him, “a legislator is one who speaks for his people in order to attract infrastructure either from the Federal or the state governments. He should be able to attract the benefits that accrue from any government and that is what we are doing”.
“The money people are receiving now are benefits from the Federal government. Every individual can access that money. However, for you to access the money, you need to pay some fees. You need to certify with some conditions by way of filling forms as well as making some payments. What Senator Gershom Bassey does is that he pays them upfront to enable you access them free”.
Ada said, “aside from that he goes ahead to train people and pay consultants, so that as you get the money, it becomes useful to you. When I visited one of the training sessions, I discovered that they were very serious minded people. For the two weeks, non of them missed their classes. The were 150 of them trained for the 10 million Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) grant”.
Presently, he said, “they have got their businesses moving and certificate of participation. This is what Senator Gershom Bassey stands for. He does not want the syndrome of our young men and women roaming the streets begging for alms. Some of them only wake up in the morning to move from one house to another with different sympathetic stories to seek for help”.
The Director General however agreed that “there are genuine cases actually but 95 percent are false stories. At this point, the lies always overshadows the truth. Senator Gershom’s concern is to be able to attract those benefits from the Federal or state for his Constitiuents. That is why we don’t make noise about these monies that have been given to the people”.
Among other things include the installation of street lights in so many areas in the state capital where we identify so many dark areas, he added.
Emphasising further, Ada said, “Our real concept of empowerment is on what we are doing that goes to individual beneficiaries. Our core mandate is to attract government benefits and infrastructure to our people. The money people are receiving is actually their own money. There are loans, there are grant’s etc. The CBN 10 million is a loan which you are to repay in seven years. You have one year mourtorim and you pay back within six years with a very low interest rate”.
Senator Gershom Bassey has completed all what it takes to access that money as an individual. There are certain amount of money you have to pay. What Gershom does is to facilitate it, by paying upfront and in addition pay the consultant who will carry out the training.
The grant ranges from 475,000 upwards while the loan is a bit higher depending on your type of business.
“This empowerment program is a big relief to Senator Gershom Bassey from our recent survey as people are beginning to take up their responsibilities. They no longer cluster in his house whenever he is around. Before now, our people have become naturally lazy. Every of our problem should be handled by the senator. That is not how it should be”.
He regretted that “the percentage of youths coming to seek for employment every year is low, while those coming with one problem or the other is very high. Sadly, from our records less than 40 percent of those who have benefitted from this gesture have not made use of this opportunity properly . I am talking about our young people. A lot of will get it and rather patronise hotels and women and before you know it the money is gone”
According to him, the gesture is extended to different support groups with tricycles and mini buses while Individuals, are empowered with cash to start their own businesses. It is a seed of unity. We are also trying to teach them how to build themselves as a group.
Our people, Ada said, “are not willing to work as a group. We are demonstrating the parable of the sower. I know of a group that got the tricycle and they have commercialised it and it has started yielding results. If you are a group and you can take care of a bike, then it means you can take care of your business. This is the kind of thing we are teaching people. This is lacking in our people over the years”.
He said that “any group that did not do well, of course will not benefit subsequently but to those who show seriousness, we shall add something to them”.
Also, the significance is to show people that the only way to grow your business is to plan. So far, we have identified so many groups across the seven LGAs in the south namely Calabar South, Calabar municipality, Bakassi, Akpabuyo, Odukpani , Akamkpa and Biase.
Ada disclosed that the value of the empowerment runs into millions of Naira. We have so many items including the mini buses, organising machine, tricycles sowing machines etc. Beyond all these, we give out data forms where you give full details of what you can do, then based on the information we provide the items accordingly. The forms are ready but we have not started giving them out”.
“We are trying to correct the impression of who may have misconceived the real concept of the empowerment. Each of the support groups get one mini bus and we tell them to commercialise it to build a purse for the group as we watch you grow. We are not show casing what we are doing to our people and supporters. As soon as the item is given to the group, it becomes their own but we will monitor the growth through our own internal mechanism, he said “.
“My principal, he noted, has done more empowerment than those going about publicising theirs. Honestly this is true. He says that is what he was voted to do and as such should not make noise when doing so. He as a person does not like praise singing at all, not that he hates journalists, know . I just hope that during this our political era, he will see reason to be more closer to the media than ever before”.
“Gershom believes doing what he has to do. He is not easily carried away. That is his nature. He doesn’t like to blow his trumpet. He believes in what is right. He had attracted so many road intervention in Akpabuyo from the Federal government courtesy of FEMA”.
“Over 800 persons have benefitted from Senator Gershom Bassey grants while over 150 have been trained under the CBN loan programme as they have received their certificate of participation and will soon receive alerts. The training is in phases. We are entering into the second phase with 200 persons. It is a continuous training program. For the grant, it is still on going, he said “