By Our Reporter
Five hundred women drawn from across the 13 local government areas of Nasarawa State have benefitted from loans under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) Micro Enterprise Enhancement Scheme (MEES).
The NDE, in collaboration with the Nasarawa State government disbursed the loan to the beneficiaries in a colourful ceremony at the Lafia Government House on Monday.
Flagging off the loan disbursement, Director General of the NDE, Dr. Nasir Mohammed Ladan Argungu, restated the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to take 100m Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years.
Argungu added that the NDE was mandated to create jobs and provide employment through entrepreneurial skills development, towards ensuring that the economic and recovery growth plan of the President and his promise to uplift 100m Nigerians from poverty in the next ten years become a reality.
On his part, Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, said the gesture is aimed at empowering the people, as well as assist them expand their small businesses.
Keyamo, who was the special guest of honour at the event, added that the MEES is something that is close to the heart of President Buhari.
“This is the baby of Mr. President, this type of programme.
“And if you notice, the President is so concerned about his constituency. The constituency of Mr. President is not the rich and the powerful elites. The people that you see gathered here today are the true constituency of President Buhari and that is why he is very concerned about them,” the Minister stated.
Keyamo dismissed insinuation from the opposition suggesting that such schemes hardly ensures clean break from poverty, stressing that before bigger issues come, the common people first must find a way to survive.
“We keep saying look, the poor will not wait until PHCN or NEPA or light becomes steady for them to run their small businesses.
“They will not wait until all the railways come on stream for them to move their good and services, they will not wait until all the road networks in the country that have been damaged by successive regimes to be good for them to move their goods and services.
“Those goodies are coming but before they come, let the poor see something upon which to survive. This is the essence of such programmes that we are bringing here today,” Keyamo said.
The minister announced additional plan to train and equip another set of 50 people each from across the 13 local government areas of the state, stressing that the scheme is a direct approach by President Buhari to address the issue of poverty.
“I have the pleasure to announce today that apart from this MEES , I just discussed with my Director General, that we have another programme coming to Nasarawa in the next few weeks and that is, 50 people each from each local government area will be specially trained to acquire special skills and giving starter packs free to start,” Keyamo disclosed.
Responding, Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, noted that though the loan may not mean much to other people, it means a lot to the majority of the beneficiaries who need the loan as working capital.
Engineer Sule expressed appreciation to the ministry, as well as the NDE for putting Nasarawa State into consideration.
“I want to sincerely thank the Ministry for looking at Nasarawa and all the challenges we have and coming to our aid and continue to support those from Nasarawa, “ the governor said.
Engineer Sule however called on the beneficiaries of the loan to make judicious use of the capital given to them in order to move themselves out of poverty.
“I want to thank you for the additional support the minister has announced of these 50 beneficiaries that will not only be trained but will be given the tools to work with.
“So they have training, they have tools, they have the support, automatically from day one, it means they are out of poverty,” he said.
Engineer Sule assured that when it comes to selecting beneficiaries for the additional support, “we will be as honest as we have always been, to select those that are truly in need of this so that they can benefit from it and so we will have more and more people in Nasarawa State actually getting out of poverty.”