Nigeria’s oil and gas wealthy Delta state is now set to access the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) N220 billion naira micro, small and medium enterprises funds for the benefit of the people of the state.
The state is also partnering with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in the areas of fish processing and packing for export overseas.
This development followed the signing into law of the Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency Bill by the Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan on Monday, October 20, 2014.
The initial Bill was to consolidate the state’s micro credit activities targeted at less privilege persons in the state.
Governor Uduaghan who signed the Bill into law in the presence of Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Peter Onwusanya announced the appointment of the State Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Anthonia Ashiedu as the agency’s executive secretary.
He explained that the law became necessary to ensure the continuation of the micro credit programme which has changed the fortune of most people who were economically disadvantaged.
Uduaghan observed that his administration in line with its Delta Beyond Oil Initiative has carried out a lot of developmental activities targeted at the pro-poor, explaining that the new agency would ensure the continuity of those activities.
“This bill is to ensure the protection of our micro credit programme for which we have put in a lot and is beneficial to the people at the lowest rungs in society.
“Since 2007 a lot of our activities have been targeted at the poor, this enabled us to deal with the Delta Beyond oil at that level,” adding, “now we have an agency that will protect our micro credit activities”
Uduaghan stated that with the agency in place, the state could now access the Central Bank of Nigeria 220 billion naira micro, small and medium enterprises fund for the benefit of the people of the state, stressing that “the state has been identified as a major beneficiary of the fund giving our achievements in that sector”.
The agency he explained would be run by a part time board and chairman with an executive secretary to oversee its day to day administration and management.
In a related development, Governor Uduaghan has disclosed that Delta State Government and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) were partnering in the areas of fish processing and packing that would facilitate export overseas.
The Governor who witnessed the harvesting and sales of fish exhibition at the Camp 74 Fish Farm, Asaba on Monday said with the construction of Cargo section at the Asaba International Airport, fish farmers could send their products fresh to any part of the world.
He explained that six fish feed processing facilities were already being constructed in the state that would help produce floating feed for farmers under the said partnership with UNIDO.
“You will no longer have difficulties in getting your feeds,” Governor Uduaghan assured the fish farmers, who are also creating jobs under he State Government’s Delta Beyond Oil Economic Development Model.
“With what we are doing with Delta Beyond Oil, with the fish farming, we will get to a point where the fish we produce will be more than we can consume or sell locally. so we are partnering with UNIDO to get modern dryers and package the fish for national and international market,” he said.
Uduaghan commended the fish farmers, most of whom are graduates, who have taken to profitable means of livelihood rather than waiting for government and white collar jobs.
“When you have a passion, follow your passion, develop your passion and the sky will be the limit, that is why comedians are making money and I know of Lawyers who are into fashion designing and they are doing well, you don’t need to wait for government to employ you before you assist yourself and contribute to the growth of the society, ” he said.
The State Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Anthonia Ashiedu had thanked the Governor for providing the enabling environment for Deltans to discover their potentials, stating that through the micro-credit programme, the youths were learning different trades and have become employers of labour.
Mr Upright Nwanneka who is the President of Camp 74 Fish Farm Cooperative Society explained, “Camp 74 which started operation with just one fish pond has become a fish farm estate covering over six hectares of land with over 450 fish ponds having 102 fish farmers with over 90 per cent graduates and 20 youth corp members employing 22 permanent workers and 30 casual workers turning out more than 25 tons of fish monthly.”