By Monsuru Olowoopejo
Lagos—Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State yesterday presented cheques worth over N1 billion to 705 beneficiaries of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, ETF, pilot scheme, charging them to utilise the funds responsibly to grow their businesses, create jobs for the unemployed youths and contribute to the growth of the Lagos economy.
Governor Ambode, who made the presentation at the LTV Blue Roof, Ikeja, Lagos, said his administration identified unemployment as a major challenge facing Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole in the course of the electoral campaign, and thus prioritised job creation.
He said the setting up of the ETF was a direct response to address the challenge of unemployment and provide support to youths, entrepreneurs, artisans and other unemployed people in the state.
“We have kept our word. We created a dedicated Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, whose mission is to promote and sustain entrepreneurship and employment,” the governor said.
Ambode, while commending the Board and Management of the Fund for embarking on a comprehensive review of the business environment and developing a strategic framework and operating guidelines to ensure the sustainable and successful management of these funds, said the successful disbursement was a product of the painstaking effort.
He said the funds are targeted at small and medium scale businesses and individuals including carpenters, hairdressers, electricians, automobile parts repairers, block makers, bakers, fashion designers, cake makers, food sellers, kerosene retailers, mobile money agents, painters, plumbers, photographers and light manufacturers of liquid soaps and water, among others.
“These beneficiaries are making history as the first set of beneficiaries of this Employment Trust Fund, and my charge to you is simple: You must use these funds responsibly, grow your businesses, create jobs for our unemployed youths and contribute to the growth of the Lagos State GDP. The idea is that for every N1million we disburse, we should create a minimum of five jobs around that business value chain,” he said.
The governor also enjoined market women and female artisans to take advantage of the opportunity as his administration was particularly interested in supporting women in business.
In her opening remarks, Chairman, Board of ETF, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru said the presentation of cheques to beneficiaries was in fulfilment of the promise made by Governor Ambode during the electioneering and a confirmation of many to come.
She recalled that while canvassing for votes, the need to provide jobs was clearly on the mind of the Governor, and according to her, he wasted no time in setting up the ETF Board made up of people with proven track records, as well as transferring N6.25billion for the initiative to kick off, while the Board ensured that the process was fair and transparent with no favour as to party, religion, tribe or faith, and covered all the 57 Councils in the state.