No fewer than 1,000 traders, marketers and artisans are to benefit from N1billion soft loan under the Kwara State Social Investment Programme, KWASSIP to run their businesses.
Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State noted that the proposal has been sent to the State House of Assembly for consideration and approval.
The governor said this on Thursday at a maiden breakfast meeting with journalists in Kwara State that the focus of his administration centred on human capital and infrastructure development to attract investments, combat poverty and take Kwara to the top of the table of revenue generation and competitiveness.
“Under the Kwara State Social Investment Programme, for instance, we plan to spend N1billion to help traders and artisans with soft loans. We are looking at roughly 1000 beneficiaries of such soft loan.
”We cannot watch while our people suffer. We have to do something in that regard,” he said at the event attended by top government officials and party leaders, including the Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi; Secretary to the State Government Prof. Mamman Sabah Jibril; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Aminu Adisa Logun; Head of Service, Mrs Susan Modupe Oluwole; and All Progressives Congress, APC, Chairman in the state, Bashiru Bolarinwa.
The speaker, the Chief Judge, and the Grand Khadi were represented at the event.
He listed his major landmarks to include fixing the perennial water crisis within Ilorin metropolis, taking Kwara out of its pariah status as the least performing state in the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, ranking, and getting contractors back to work to complete abandoned or uncompleted projects.
According to him, this will also include paying counterpart funds that have changed the story of the state in health and education sector, paying years of arrears owed Colleges of Education, and re-accreditation of the state’s tertiary institutions, among others.
Governor AbdulRazaq said his administration hasd done these without touching the N4.8billion it inherited from the previous government, saying the fund was reserved to kick-start the state’s social security programme and put basic infrastructure in place.
He also said Kwarans should expect something concrete on cabinet formation from next week, saying the delay had been due to wide consultations with all stakeholders within the ruling party and dismissing claims of rancour within its ranks.
Dwelling extensively on his development priorities, he said the recent budget review and the 2020 budget would help redirect funding for infrastructure projects that fit into his campaign promises to the people.
He said: “We have prioritised and will always prioritise water, education, health, road and general infrastructure. Agriculture is also a priority and we are looking at ensuring that a lot is done is the area of agro-processing because of our comparative advantages.
”We want to completely change the story of this state and our plans revolve around just that, beginning from the budget review.”
He said the World Bank has indicated interest in supporting the scheme, which is the first of such state-led initiative modelled after the Federal Government Social Investment Programme, which components include TraderMoni, MarketMoni, and FarmerMoni, among other supports for small and medium scale businesses.
“We are targeting 1000 beneficiaries under our own scheme. We are working with the Federal Government agencies that handled the market moni and trader moni. They will help to train our own officials. And we are also working with the Bank of Industry which will do the disbursement to allow for transparency and ensure that the money gets to the real beneficiaries,” he said.
The governor said he had spent the last 100 days putting in place basic infrastructure needs of the people that ought to have been done in the past, citing the lack of water, access to basic healthcare and dilapidated schools as examples of the rots he inherited and has started acting upon with prompt release of funds.
He also said the school feeding programme, a key component of the KWASSIP, which was designed to address the menace of malnutrition such as stunting, which affect many children in Kwara, would begin next year,
AbdulRazaq said Kwara will also access N7 billion from the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, to fix the infrastructure deficits in primary education once it paid its own counterpart fund of N7billion, adding that such funds would go a long way to turn around the fortunes of primary schools in the state.
The governor also said he has discussed major road projects in the state with President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the focus of his administration was to change the story of Kwara for good in the area of infrastructure and human capital development.