By Sunday Oguntuyi, Osogbo
Osun State governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, on Thursday said his administration had adopted a proactive strategy to stimulate the economy of the State that had hitherto been adversely affected by the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
Oyetola noted that before the advent of Covid-19, his administration had put in place workable strategy and proactive measures by making skills upgrade training a priority in the 2020 Budget as part of efforts to take care of the extant global economic downturn and prepare for worst circumstances that might arise.
This is even as the governor presented cash as seed loans to 2,000 successful trainees of Skills Upgrade and Entrepreneurship Training Programme under the Post Covid-19 Economic Strategy Pilot Training Programme of the State government.
Governor Oyetola spoke at the graduation ceremony of the first batch of the participants of the Post Covid-19 Economic Strategy Pilot Training Programme held at the Multi-purpose Hall, Local Government Service Commission, Abere, Osogbo.
He said the Skills Upgrade and Entrepreneurship Training Programme was designed to generate 15,000 direct and indirect sustainable job opportunities for the people annually.
Oyetola who said the training programme was a swift response to the challenges brought about by the novel Covid-19 pandemic, said it was designed to provide participants who were adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic with skills upgrade training to make them relevant in the new normal necessitated by the Post Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the Administration had set aside a sum of ₦100 million for disbursement to beneficiaries of the scheme as seed loans of ₦100,000 only to each participant.
“Year 2020 was indeed a challenging year for the world economy as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, which badly affected corporate and personal businesses as well as the financial and socio-economic systems of the world. Osun was no exception,” he said.
“As an institution charged with providing security and welfare for citizens, our government, on coming to office two years ago during the world economic downturn, adopted a proactive strategy to prepare for the situation and worst circumstances that might arise.
“We adopted a proactive measure by making Skills Upgrade training a priority in the 2020 Budget even before the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This initiative came handy when Covid-19 locked down world economy and scrapped people’s means of livelihood. We were therefore able to leverage on this existing project to provide sustainable jobs for our people whose jobs or businesses were affected negatively by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Under the Skills Upgrade training programme, we were able to re-focus, re-engineer and expand the scope, knowledge and relevance of artisans and people who lost their jobs to make them relevant under the new normal orchestrated by Covid-19.
“This Skills Upgrade strategy has strengthened our drive to ensure that majority of our people are self-reliant.
“We were also able to sustain the provision of social and welfare services, food security, healthcare, education and sustainable means of livelihood for our citizens during the period under reference.
“This initiative has further enhanced the quality of lives of our people and improved Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the State.
“It is therefore pertinent to state that we have recorded gains in the area of poverty reduction, wealth creation and provision of job opportunities through our policies and programmes.”
Oyetola urged the beneficiaries to utilise the skills and knowledge acquired in the course of the programme positively to add value to themselves and to enable them to compete favourably in the industrial and commercial sectors.
“As pioneer graduates of this scheme, you are our voice to your successors that this programme is useful and doable. You are our proof that entrepreneurship is a worthy solution to youth unemployment and poverty.
“You are our strength that will lay a solid foundation for a sustainable, life-transforming and destiny-changing programme that will join other proactive initiatives to deliver the prosperous Osun that we seek”, he added.
The Commissioner for Commerce, Industries, Cooperatives and Empowerment, Dr. Bode Olaonipekun, said the programme was put together by the State government as part of efforts to address the adverse effects of Covid-19 pandemic and ameliorate the disruptions to livelihood of the her citizens caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
He said a total of 2, 000 participants were all trained and empowered with startup loans to support their businesses.
“Till date, disbursement has reached 89.2%, which is highly commendable. The remaining 11.8% shall be concluded at the graduation ground.
“Due to the opportunity and window we have for NIRSAL/Post Covid-19 household/MSME loans, we are able to disburse between N200,000 and N1,000,000 to 714 beneficiaries that met the criteria for such disbursement while 1,612 applicants would benefit from Bank of Industry OSSG-BOI-SEEP loan.
“In all, a total of 2,326 direct and indirect participants have benefitted from one form loan or the other. This pilot phase can be termed successful and will serve as a reference point for the continuation of the programme which aims to empower 15,000 residents annually and other states in Nigeria”, he added.
The Executive Director, Micro Enterprise, Bank of Industry, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, commended the Administration of Governor Oyetola for building a virile and healthy economy for the State.
Mrs. Adeniji, who expressed satisfaction on the timely and prompt cooperation and support received from the government, promised the instruction’s continued support to the State in its relentless efforts to grow her economy.
Some of the graduands that spoke at the event commended the Administration for the support received which they described as unprecedented in the history of the State.