Last Wednesday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu empowered Lagos traders with N10,000 worth of goods each to enable them start up small scale businesses. Muritala Ayinla reports
The world is in distress, the global economy is also arguably confronting its sharpest reversal in a generation with virtually every country tackling varying degrees of socio-economic challenges brought by the covid-19 pandemic.
No nation is immune from the global pandemic and its attendant economic downturn, which has forced every country to deal with emerging challenges threatening the existence of most nations in the world.
Nigeria, like many other countries of the world ravaged by Covid- 19, is currently faced with, perhaps the most challenging economic slump in its history following what the experts described as a multilayered quandary: a health crisis, near total shut-down of economic activities, capital flow reversals and a fast increasing unemployment rate, fuelled by the frequent layoffs in almost all sectors of the economy. All these which have contributed to the economic hardship undoubtedly require a pragmatic, documented, planned and detailed strategic solution to the problem. But to cushion effect of the pandemic on some Lagos residents whose businesses have been badly affected by the lockdown or whose living conditions had been worsened by the measures to prevent Covid-19, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has launched the “Eko Cares” to lift many indigents in the state. The governor who approved the payment of N10,000 to petty traders support their businesses, also vowed to continue to extend democratic dividends to indigent petty traders in the state to enable them to create a platform for financial empowerment and self-reliance. The governor said that he would ensure that every Lagos resident is carried along in the greater Lagos agenda through frequent empowerment of people particularly the indigent, the vulnerable who just need a little encouragement to become self- reliant.
Speaking at the second edition of Lagos Eko Care with the slogan “Go forward, Grow Lagos” held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Lagos State Secretariat, Sanwo-Olu described the empowerment of 4,000 gesture as a social intervention programme of his administration designed by the office of Civic Engagement, as a palliative measure for the vulnerable, less privileged, lower echelon of the Lagos society.
The governor, who spoke through the Special Adviser, Office of Civic Engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale, explained that 2,000 traders were initially empowered with N10,000 each to support their businesses, adding that the other 2,000 indigent residents were supported by goods worth N10,000. “The initiative aims to create a platform for financial empowerment of the poorest of the poor in the state thus enhancing socioeconomic inclusion and cohesion.
The programme was aimed at catering for the masses, especially the poorest of the poor. You would agree with me that apart from improving the sources of livelihoods of the beneficiaries, the initiative would enhance the state’s achievement of sustainable development goals of No poverty (Goal 1), Zero hunger(Goal 2), Decent Works and Economic Growth (Goal 8) and Reduced Inequalities (Goal 9) but to mention but a few”, she said.
Aderemi explained that Eko Cares was launched in December 2019 by the Governor, as a means of supporting indigent Lagosians, the poorest of the poor who can hardly sustain themselves.
According to her, the beneficiaries were selected across the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas of the state, noting that this year’s phase has been enriched with the microbusiness components wherein instead of direct cash payments as was in the first phase, participants received products worth N10,000 directly from partnering with companies at below factory prices, which allows them to start trading in their neighborhood at a competitive advantage, thereby maximizing profits.
She, however, advised the beneficiaries to see the empowerment as a golden opportunity to lift them out of the woods, just as she added that her office would continue to monitor and engage them individually and collectively to ensure they are growing in their businesses.
Also in her keynote address, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Lola Akande, said it is an understatement that a lot of people need financial assistance to solve a mirage of challenges ranging from chronic ailments, accidents, diverse degrees of disasters, to loss of jobs, occasioned by the prevalence of Covid-19 pandemic.
She encouraged all beneficiaries to make the best use of the opportunity and also enjoined them to be innovative and dynamic. Highlights of the event include distribution of N10,000 worth of products to all traders present, training of traders on book keeping and financial accounting among others.
On his part, Mr Yusuf Olatunji, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, lauded the initiative, saying that the gesture would enable them to start up the businesses. The first batch of the beneficiaries got N20,000 each while the security nd batch were given N10,000 worth of goods.
It was learnt that in addition to the N10,000 work the of products given to the beneficiaries, the traders were also trained on the business strategy to enable them to run their businesses.