By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.
The federal government has flagged off the training and skills acquisition programme for women and girls for its monthly Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP.
Under the programme, 80,000 indigent women and girls across the country are targeted to receive interest free loan monthly to do small scale business or trades.
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Aisha Jummai Alhassan said the present administration is providing N1.6 Billion for the empowerment of vulnerable Nigerian women and girls.
The funds are sourced from the Ministry of Women Affair’s National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF).
Pilot scheme for the programme in the eight states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Osun, Akwa-Ibom and Abia have begun where the targeted persons are to benefit from a zero interest free loan aimed at making the women rural dwellers financially solvent.
Speaking in Minna during a one day advocacy/sensitization and flag off of skills training and empowerment of 250 unemployed girls and women in Niger state, the Minister said the programme was meant for the poorest of the poor women and girls.
She said “the federal government is targeting about 80,000 women who are among the poorest of the poor, dwelling in rural areas”. Government according to her is hoping to bring into the bet about 70 percent of the entire Nigeria’s population who are mostly women and youths.
The zero interest loan revolving scheme according to the Minister is a continuous scheme that is targeting about 10, 000 beneficiaries in each state of the federation including Abuja.
She disclosed that N200 million will be disbursed to each of the benefiting eight states through active and functional Cooperative Societies, local trade associations and other community based groups. Each beneficiary will receive between N10, 000 to N100,000 as loan repayable in six months.
Speaking about the the NAWEF and GEEP, the Minister noted that the project will help rebuild Nigeria’s economy and compliment other economic empowerment strategies of the federal and state governments by reducing poverty amongst rural dwellers especially women and provide skills development, training and business support to them.
The interest free loan, according to her will promote financial inclusion and livelihood opportunities for women and reduce feminized poverty and a situation that have left the Nigerian women, especially those in rural areas as perpetual beggars and dregs of the society.
She assured that “the federal government will continue to look at palliatives that would help in empowering women and youths in the country”.
And while allaying fears that the scheme could be hijacked by religious and political bigots, the wife of the state Governor, Dr. Amina Sani Bello assured that the 250 unemployed girls and women were drawn from across the 25 local government areas spread across all spectrums.
Dr. Amina Bello applauded the Minister for using Niger state for the kickoff of the programme. She said the state government had prioritised women and youths development in the 2017 state fiscal plan.
The wife of the Governor tasked the beneficiaries to ensure maximum and proper utilization of the funds for the purpose for which it was meant for. She reminded them that the money was not a largesse but part of government’s strategies aimed at reducing the impact of economic recession on citizens.
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.