ETF: Lagos Disburses N5.22billion To 6,462 Beneficiaries

ETF: Lagos Disburses N5.22billion To 6,462 Beneficiaries

…To Train 10,000 Skilled Persons Through Employability Support Scheme

The Lagos State Government on Thursday said a total of 6,462 residents with proven business ideas have so far benefitted about N5.22billion from the Employment Trust Fund (ETF) designed to grow the economy and create jobs through provision of credit facilities with minimal interest.

Speaking at the annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third anniversary of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf said the amount so far disbursed constituted a huge part of the total N5.98billion approved for 8,229 beneficiaries since it began disbursement in 2017.

The ETF is an initiative of the present administration in the State through which N25billion is earmarked to be disbursed over a period of four years to provide entrepreneurs, artisans, traders and others with capital to boost their businesses thereby reducing unemployment and increasing wealth among the people.

While reeling out loan disbursement activities of the fund, Akinbile-Yussuf said: “In fulfillment of the Lagos State Government’s mandate, the Fund has now disbursed N5.22billion to 6,462 beneficiaries, out of the approved loans totaling N5.98billion for 8,229 beneficiaries received.

She said in the period under review, the board of ETF approved loans totaling N627,053,826.15 for 643 beneficiaries under the batch four of the scheme, while in batches five, six, seven and eight, N924,696,671.00, N979,704,570.31, N443,859,457.60 and N1,013,485,058.69 were respectively disbursed to 5, 813 beneficiaries.

“For batch one of 2018, the Board approved loans totaling N492,798,560.90 for 1,753 beneficiaries (44 Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), 1,306 Medium Enterprise (ME) and 403 MES). The successful applicants have been contacted to meet the conditions that precede the disbursement of their loans,” she said.

Akinbile-Yussuf said as part of efforts designed to encourage startups in innovation and technology, the State Government launched innovation-driven enterprise program tagged “Lagos Innovates” where access to high quality infrastructure, learning and networks were provided, adding that the projection was to cement the place of Lagos as the leading destination for startups in Africa.

She said the government, through the Lagos State Employability Support Project, has also firmed up plans to produce 10,000 skilled persons within three years to cater for demand in key sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, construction, entertainment, garment making and tourism and hospitality.

“In addition, the project will place at least 6,000 trained persons in jobs and upgrade the equipment and improve the curriculum at two of Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB’s) Colleges,” she said.

On other achievements of the Ministry in the last one year, the Commissioner said government developed virtual market which is an online portal created to connect artisans and tradesmen with customers in need of goods and services in a secure environment, revealing that the Ministry had commenced partnership with different stakeholders to actualize the initiative.

She said under the tradesmen and artisans capacity building scheme, a total of 1,000 were retrained in 2017 to enhance their efficiency, competitiveness and productivity, while 40 members of Lagos State House Painter Association were trained and engaged by Kansai Plascon Nigeria, as well as 50 others were trained in partnership with Ruff n Tumble under the sustainable development programme.

Besides, she said in recognition of the opportunities in emergence of new technologies especially in addressing the needs of the society to attain sustainable growth and development, the government came up with the concept of developing an ICT hub in Yaba, saying the project would be delivered in partnership with other critical stakeholders.

Also, the Commissioner said the government would soon launch health SMEs to facilitate quality improvement in both public and private sector health facilities through provision of financial support with the support of private sector organizations with the aim of creating wealth and employment.

The State Government, the Commissioner said, also introduced graduate internship programme through the Ministry where a total of 1800 candidates were screened in 2017 out of which 910 were deployed to various private organizations with the view to creating a network contact between the off-takers and the interns.

LASG Seeks World Bank’s Partnership In Funding Transport, Energy, Water Sectors

LASG Seeks World Bank’s Partnership In Funding Transport, Energy, Water Sectors

…Says Support For Lagos‘ll Positively Rub Off On Nigeria’s Economy 

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday called on the World Bank to seriously consider partnership with the State Government in funding key projects in transport, energy and water sectors, saying such collaboration would positively impact the economy of not just the State but the country at large.

Speaking at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja during a courtesy visit by Executive Directors of the Bank led by Mr Patrizio Pagano, Governor Ambode said though the State Government in the last three years had hugely invested in provision of infrastructure across all sectors and sections, but collaboration from the Bretton Wood institution in key sectors in the State would go a long way in boosting the economy and making life comfortable for the people.

He said available statistics from the United Nations confirmed the fact that an average of 86 people enter into Lagos every one hour which is the highest in the world, while the population of the State was now around 24million, with attendant impact on infrastructure and other social amenities, adding that the complexity of the State makes the need for support in funding key projects more compelling.

“The significance of Lagos to the overall economy of Nigeria itself is not what we want to toy with and so when I read in the brief that the delegation would be coming to Lagos, I thought it was a very good decision that you would be able to see some of the sectors and some of the impact we have made.

“So, if the World Bank were to generally support the development of the Nigerian economy, beyond the fact that you would be having anything to do with the Federal Government, I think that the greater part of what you should concentrate on should be issues that relate to major sectors that have to do with Lagos because anything that is driven by Lagos more or less has an overall positive impact on the Nigerian economy,” Governor Ambode said.

Already, Governor Ambode said his administration had commenced the process of implementing major reforms in the transport sector with major bus terminals and laybys springing up in key areas across the State, adding however that major support was also needed in areas of integrated transport system involving road, rail and water transportation.

While alluding to the traffic congestion raised on the Airport Road by the leader of the delegation, the Governor said the development was a signpost of the fact that there was urgent need to invest massively in other modes of transportation.

“Unfortunately, with the huge population of Lagos, we just have some effective operation of one mode of transportation which is road. So, technically, when you are having a whole lot of people coming into the State and you are having so much expansion around the West Coast, it is important that we review the integration of our public transport management system in a manner that we can actually stand to say that we are planning ahead of the kind of urbanization challenges that we are having in our hands as well as some sense of implosion in terms of population coming from other parts of the country into Lagos.

“So, technically there are major reforms going on in the public transport system and because the roads and the infrastructure are the things that are visible right now, it is important that we seek greater support to be able to create new terminals, create new laybys, new bus stops and actually even purchase new buses because when you look at the bus system in the city, it cannot actually meet the demand of a globally competitive city that we are trying to make Lagos to become.

“In that regard, I just think that the transport sector is one area that we really need to look at and if we are able to make a good example and a good success of what Lagos should really be in terms of integrated transport system, we would have helped Nigeria to create an example and we would have also been able to replicate it in other parts of the country,” the Governor said.

He said Lagos, being a sub-national was also having challenges in providing energy to adequately power the State, as well as in the area of providing portable water to the huge population due to competing pressure on resources, adding that support to augment efforts being made by the State Government would equally be helpful.

Besides, Governor Ambode thanked the World Bank for the various budget support initiatives in transport, agric and water sectors, saying the support had crystallized not only in development and growth of the State, but also resulted in stronger ties with the institution.

Responding to a question on how Lagos contributed to Nigeria’s economic recovery and growth plan, the Governor said his administration decided to reflate the economy by investing massively in key sectors which in turn touched even the lower fabric of the economy, saying the development changed the tied of the negative outlook of the country’s financial numbers, and eventually stabilized the economy.

“The last three years have been tremendously progressive for Lagos. We have done so much in terms of infrastructure to make sure that the city stabilizes. We are very strong in the area of security and right now, Lagos appears to be the safest city in Africa and security wise we have been able to put the city back on track and it has stabilized a whole lot of investment here.

“We believe also that if we continue in that path, some years to come we would become the third largest economy in Africa,” the Governor said.

Earlier, Pagano said the delegation, which consists of 10 World Bank Executive Directors representing 96 countries, was in Nigeria to study the challenges and expectations of the partners in West Africa from the bank, saying the team was delighted to learn the challenges faced by Lagos, which he described as Nigeria’s most dynamic State.

Lagos To Complete Largest Rice Mill In Sub Saharan Africa Early 2019

Lagos To Complete Largest Rice Mill In Sub Saharan Africa Early 2019

…Revs Up New Mile 12 Market, Agbowa Timberville Sawmill, Others

The Lagos State Government on Wednesday said all hands are on deck to complete the largest rice mill in Sub-Saharan Africa currently ongoing in Imota Local Council Development Area of the State within the first quarter of 2019.

Apart from ensuring availability of rice in the market, the mill which is of 32 metric tons per hour production capacity, is projected to facilitate the creation of over 200,000 jobs across the agricultural value chain, while it will also bring about the cultivation of 32,000 hectares of farm land to produce rice paddy, equating to an estimated 130million Kg of processed rice per year (an equivalent of 2.6milion 50kg bags of rice).

Speaking during an extensive inspection tour of major projects in Ikorodu, Imota and Agbowa axis by members of the Lagos State Executive Council, the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode said the project would be completed by January 2019, while the initial production would commence by February of the year.

The Governor, who was represented by Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Adebowale Akinsanya, said the project was part of the grand policy of his administration to ensure food security, and as well give a quantum leap to economic integration of the Southwest region as the land to be cultivated and rice paddy for the mill would be supplied largely by farmers from the region.

Briefing journalists alongside other Exco members after being taken round the level of work done so far by Project Engineer, Gboyega Odunlami, Governor Ambode said it was gratifying to note that the project was progressing steadily and would be delivered on schedule.

“The key take away from here is that the construction of the rice mill and the industrial park among other complementing facilities are going on as planned. The administrative building, the restaurant, fire station, power station and other facilities needed to support the park and the rice mill are all ongoing concurrently.

“The mill is part of the food security strategy of this administration as well as Southwest integration efforts. It will be the largest rice mill not just in Nigeria but in Sub Saharan Africa.

“Already, we have commitment from the contractors working on the project that it would be delivered by January 2019 and the rice mill that would be the food engine of the Southwest will be in production by February,” the Governor said.

At the Imota Regional Food Stuff Market where the present Mile 12 Market and other markets within the axis would be relocated, the Governor said the first phase of the project which would accommodate about 1500 shops was already at 75 per cent completion stage, while the second phase, among other facilities such as concretized roads, fire stations, drainages, sewage system, power stations, sewage treatment, 1000 capacity Car Park, over 100 capacity Trailer Park, bus layby, among others would all be delivered before the end of the year.

The Governor said adequate provisions have been made in the new market to avoid the challenges which the present Mile 12 Market and other markets in the area constituted to the environment, saying at least 70 meters of buffer zone had been created between the proposed Ikorodu-Itoikin-Epe road expansion project and the market to prevent interface.

“We have seen what is going on as to our commitment to make this place a regional market. The first phase is 75 per cent completed. The major challenge has been accomplished though we still have some things to sort out but we are over the hurdle.

“What remains is to keep going, speed up and with the commitment of this government, we should be able to complete this project by September and hopefully by the end of the year, all the different markets in Mile 12 will be able to move here and it will be a one shop centre for everybody,” he said.

While inspecting the 2.7kilometre Agbowa-Timberville Road under construction and the Agbowa Timberville Sawmill where the present day Okobaba Sawmill in Ebute Metta would be relocated, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Rotimi Ogunleye said the project was at the final completion stage with few outstanding facilities.

“The main project of the Agbowa Timberville Sawmill is about 250 shops out of which over 200 have been completed and the project is sitting on 150 hectares. The various infrastructure – the road networks, the shops, sheds and all that have been put in place.

“The two outstanding areas for us to move the traders from Okobaba to this place are the short road that leads to the Timberville from Agbowa which is swampy in some areas and we have to do decompile and then the second outstanding area is the boom area which is the place where the timber merchant will anchor their logs.

“We have spoken with the traders and they are very much ready to come here. Apart from the shops, we have the halls for them to do their meetings; we have conveniences, cafeteria, 24/7 power supply, among others so that they can do their business in a more conducive and friendly environment, and then we can  have the opportunity of regenerating the present Okobaba which is within the city,” he said.

Also, while conducting members of the State Executive Council round the Odo Onosa/Ayandelu Housing Scheme, Commissioner for Housing, Mr Gbolahan Lawal said the project had already been incorporated into the rent-to-own housing policy of the present administration where people would just pay five per cent of the total amount and spread the rest over ten years.

He said the scheme is one of the 17 estates spread across the State with a total of 5008 units, and that interested residents need not know any government official to apply for the scheme.

Responding on behalf of the community, Oba of Odo Ayandelu Kingdom in Ikosi-Ejirin, Oba Ganiu Aderibigbe recalled how he approached the Governor during a town hall meeting held at Ajelogo on the need to revisit the project, saying the work done so far was a practical example of the fact that the Governor was a listening Governor, adding that the project would boost economic activities in the axis.

“To us, we see this project as our own company in the sense that it would create a lot of jobs for our people. I also want to commend the Governor for not increasing the price. When the project commenced under the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola, cement was sold for N2,600 and the price of the house remain the same till date which means Governor Ambode has cushioned the gap in between,” the monarch said.

We Must Entrench True Federalism To Rescue Nigeria

We Must Entrench True Federalism To Rescue Nigeria

…Says Current Power Structure Inhibiting National Growth

…Delivers 2017 UNILAG Convocation Lecture

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday reiterated the need for Nigeria to implement the federal system as originally intended, saying doing so remains the right path to rescue the country from the doldrums and myriad of challenges inhibiting growth and development.

Governor Ambode, who spoke while delivering the University of Lagos Convocation Lecture and investiture of Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the 12th Vice Chancellor of the institution, said it was a common knowledge that the Federal Government was burdened with tasks beyond the reach of its best competencies to the detriment of States, which are the federating units.

According to him, Nigeria’s present political structure was seriously affecting the efficiency of both State and Local governments, submitting that for States to give optimal service to their citizens, the principle of inclusion as being practiced in Lagos where anybody irrespective of race or creed can rise to the pinnacle of their chosen career, first needs to be applied to the division of power between the Federal and State governments.

“There recently has been clamour for devolution of power and true federalism. While much of this talk is good intentioned, I believe it misses the crucial point. The linchpin of good governance is not found in the system deployed but in the quality of its administration.

“We must implement the federal system as it was intended to be. Heretofore, too much power has resided in the National government. This has been to the detriment of the authority and efficiency of both State and Local governments.

“This has caused a governance vacuum of sorts. The Federal government is burdened with tasks beyond the reach of its best competencies. The States and Local government are dissuaded from treating many matters of a local nature that are better left in their hands due to their greater knowledge of local conditions.

“We need to shift some functions/responsibilities from the national government to place more of it in the hands of the States. This is how we give federalism the best chance to work. Until we do this, calls to abandon the current system serve not to fix the underlying problem,” the Governor said.

Continuing, Governor Ambode said any structural reform might face the tendency of being distorted to serve the purpose of those who favour concentration of power, adding that clamour for total change to the political architecture would be time consuming and expensive.

He posited that what the nation should do was to first attempt a more equitable level of fiscal federalism before adopting drastic alternations that may likely plunge the country into uncertainty.

“Additionally, such attempts at enormous and rapid political change causes economic uncertainty and dislocation. Given our tenuous relationship to prosperity, Nigeria cannot afford this self-affliction.

“There is widespread consensus that too much power sits in the center. We can correct this imbalance by reallocating power and responsibilities between the States and Federal government by amending the list of exclusive and concurrent powers and duties of these governments to reflect current realities in the nation.

“These changes will have beneficial impact visible within a short amount of time. The impact of these changes, though political in origin, will be economic in nature and it is in our economic life where the nation needs the most help.

“Resolving the problems regarding federalism and the herdsman’s, as with so many other problems, requires us to look beyond prejudice and hatred.  Exploiting fear and bias is easy and sings well in the short-run. Over the longer-term, it is a bitter cup that cures nothing but ferments greater hatred and larger problems,” he said.

Governor Ambode, who also alluded to the story of Lagos, said former Governors Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola deserved commendation for moving the master plan of Lagos from concept to concrete reality, saying his administration was building on it to move the State to a smart city.

“In every way, our infrastructure is improved.  Our roads are better, our mass transportation has expanded, hospitals give better care to the sick and afflicted, education is improving and more affordable housing is being constructed before our very eyes.

“The face of Badagry is changing. The makeover of Oshodi will cause you to marvel at the transformation that can take place even in densely populated urban space when there is the political will and determined creativity to give the people the infrastructure they deserve. We are improving and expanding the Airport Road so that a trip to and from the airport no longer takes more time than your flight itself.

“The Lekki-Epe axis was once an isolated, inactive tract of land. Now it bustles with energy, activity and prosperity due in large measure to the roads and other infrastructure our State has constructed. We have and will continue to build bridges linking parts of Lagos that have not been linked before so that commerce, transport and communication among Lagosians will be facilitated,” he said.

Admonishing the 2017 graduates, Governor Ambode urged them to use their academic experience to correct the direction of the country by improving social attitudes and relying more on conscience than being canny in the conduct of their affairs.

To this end, he urged the new graduates to shun the old ways of ethnic, religious and regional bias that have plagued Nigeria’s politics over the years, adding that they must rise above ethnic pettiness and religious bigotry to overcome the enormity of common challenges facing Nigerians and Africans.

“The rest of the world sees us as Black, African and Nigerian and will deal with all of us in the same manner. That larger world cares little about the internal divisions we see as so profound.  In this context, we are in the same boat and share the same fate. Unless we join in concerted effort to help each other toward a better more united Nigeria, we all shall fail in our different ways,” he said.

Earlier, in his acceptance speech, Ogundipe lauded Governor Ambode for his commitment to the education sector, saying the institution (UNILAG), where the Governor himself graduated from, was proud to associate with his achievements.

He particularly thanked the Governor for granting 75 per cent waiver on revenue payable by the institution to the State Government, saying the gesture, among other laudable initiatives, were worth commending and shows his passion for the development of the education sector.

Dignitaries who graced the event include Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Senator representing Lagos Central, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu; UNILAG Pro Chancellor, Dr Wale Babalakin; Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU), Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun; former UNILAG Vice Chancellors – Professors Oye Ibidapo-Obe and Rahman Bello; foremost educationist, Professor Anya O. Anya, among others.