The Akwa Ibom State government in a bid to stimulate economic activities has empowered over 8,000 indigenes in the 31 local government areas through the micro-credit scheme.
Mr. Akan Okon, state Commissioner of Finance, made this known in Uyo over the weekend during a chat with journalists.
The commissioner who explained that the credit facilities were for start-ups and expansion of small and medium scale enterprises, said it was a deliberate effort by the state government to create wealth and reduce poverty through the provision of sustainable jobs for the teaming unemployed youths, market women, farmers, artisans, and other citizens of the state.
Mr. Okon said the revolving loan, under the CBN’s micro, small and medium enterprises development fund is paid out in phases.
He announced that the second phase of N1.74 billion recently launched in the state by Governor Udom Emmanuel would soon be disbursed through designated micro-finance banks.
He noted that funding had always been a major impediment to the growth of SME sub-sector and expressed delight that the N260 million earlier given out in the first phase of the scheme had yielded positive results as beneficiaries had not only developed and expanded their businesses but also started paying back the loan.
He said by this development, government would reach out to more thousands of loan seekers in the state, and that unemployment would be reduced to the barest minimum.
On youth empowerment, Mr. Okon asserted that the government of Udom Emmanuel has taken steps to ensure that youths are properly equipped with requisite skills that would enable them function and take advantage of the benefits that would emanate from the various industries that are coming to the state.
He hinted that around 1000 youths had been trained in various skills, while some have been sent abroad to acquire technical knowledge that would give them sound footings especially at this digital age to compete favourably with the rest of their counterparts in the world.
Okon maintained that government took the bold step to ensure that the youths key into the industrialisation programme so that when the industries begin operation our people would have what it takes to run the factories to avoid bringing in non-indigenes to work in the various factories.
Dispelling insinuations on the lingering bottleneck in the take-off of the industrialisation agenda of the state government, the commissioner said that building factories of that magnitude take different processes, one of which is to satisfy certain regulatory requirements, which he said, was on course.
He affirmed that government has put machinery in place to kick-start the industrial renaissance, stressing that it was not true that nothing was being done at the sites.
He cited example from the Automobile Assembly Plant at Itu, his home Local government where, he said, the Israeli partners have started shipping in containers with building materials to the site.
He added that people should not dwell on rumor but should take a visit to some of the sites to see things for themselves that a lot was happening.
Mr. Okon assured that the visionary leadership of Governor Emmanuel would make Akwa Ibom investors’ haven and called for maximum support of the people so that they can reap the benefits of what is to unfold in the state.