By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin

SUCCOUR recently came the way of transporters in Kwara State as  Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed injected 100 taxi cabs into the system. This gesture was made under the auspices of the Shared Prosperity agenda of the Governor Ahmed-led administration which deliberately targets the overall  improved well being of the people of the state by developing every sector of the economy.

Of particular interest in this regard according to state government officials is the provision of  massive employment for the unemployed youths and the generality of the people. The gesture is expected to further ease the transportation system across the nooks and crannies of the state while it is also expected to create means of livelihood for the the people.

Capacity crowd of beneficiaries

The expansive Government House premises at Ahmadu Bello Way Ilorin, venue of the programme, was filled with a capacity crowd of beneficiaries who came with their family members, just as party chieftains and top government officials were on ground to savour the joy of the day.

Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed while unveiling the N150 million empowerment scheme for  commercial transporters  reiterated that the scheme was in line with the Shared Prosperity Intervention Programme of his administration which is designed to sustain the material well being of the people of the state. The Governor said he commenced the project with the launch of 100 taxis procured at the cost of N50m in revolving micro credit,stressing that”in the coming months we intend to extend the empowerment to other operators in the dynamic transport sector”.

Governor Ahmed further said that  his administration had disbursed a total sum of N674 million to grow micro and small scale enterprises since 2012.

According to him: “This N50m intervention brings to a cumulative N674m the amount of revolving credit disbursed to beneficiaries under the kwara state entrepreneurship scheme from 2012 to date”. The Governor, who appealed to beneficiaries, who include members of RTEAN, NURTW, NARTO, Association of Independent Transporters, cooperative societies and qualified individuals, not to see the scheme as a government largesse, charged them to repay same as scheduled for others to benefit.

Governor Ahmed also urged the transporters to ensure adequate maintenance of their vehicles, saying that one of the challenges of road transportation in Nigeria is lack of maintenance culture.

Speaking earlier, the  Commissioner for Commerce and Cooperatives, Alhaji Suleiman Alege, said the handing over of taxi cabs was parts of efforts to empower the citizenry for self-employment, poverty alleviation, employment generation and the enhancement of socio-economic well being of the people.

He also said that creation of employment has to be a joint responsibility of government and the citizenry, adding that focus of the government in such partnership was creation of an enabling environment for growth and nurturing of business, especially micro, small and medium enterprises. The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Communications, Dr Muideen Akorede speaking  on the empowerment initiative of the administration noted that Kwara State has the second lowest unemployment level according to official figures. He recalled that at the inception of the administration, KWABES was established as a bridge employment scheme for youths.

”We   started with a survey of unemployed youths in the state and engagement of 2000 youths within 100 days,and  absorbed 2000 into civil service while another 3000 are currently on bridge,” he said. Akorede added that government also sponsored 20 youths to National Power Training Institute, NAPTIN,  at the cost of N20m, stressing that  500 youths in the state are further trained in IT and Mobile Banking Skills. He further hinted that 150 youths entrepreneurs are being  trained at KWASU and are soon to receive N50m in revolving credit.

He stressed that  government will  also  engage 8200 youths in 2014 under Quickwin, with about 4000 for entrepreneurship. Under  “Shared Prosperity” agenda of the administration the governor’s media aide stressed that with respect to general empowerment, so far the government has released N4b loan for civil servants, N100m for artisans and N50m for purchase of 100 taxis for transporters.

The Special Assistant to the Governor on Poverty Alleviation, Alhaji Bibire Ajape  urged transporters in the state to continue to support the present administration,not because of the taxi cabs given out to them but because Governor  Ahmed has done a lot to alleviate the poverty of the  people since he assumed office.

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