Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Wednesday flagged off the disbursement of non-interest loans to another round of 30,000 beneficiaries of the social investment programme — bringing the tally to 60,000 since the scheme kicked off last year.
“Between 2020 and now, we have disbursed soft loans to 30,000 beneficiaries. Today’s event marks the commencement of a fresh disbursement of the loans to another set of 30,000 beneficiaries across Kwara State,” AbdulRazaq said in Ilorin at the grand activation of Owo Isowo non-interest loans for beneficiaries from Kwara central.
“This initiative attests to the administration’s policy of gender inclusion, women empowerment, and poverty alleviation. Beneficiaries of Owo Isowo and Owo Arugbo have been 90% women.”
The governor explained that the scheme, which comes in four categories, is designed to fight extreme poverty and stimulate small businesses by providing beneficiaries with interest-free loans.
AbdulRazaq said the Owo Arugbo component — which has some 10,000 beneficiaries across the state —seeks to support the elderly and the weak in a way that neither threatens their lives nor degrades their human dignity as senior citizens.
“The (whole of the) programmes seek to lift people from extreme poverty. KWASSIP comes in four components, including Owo Isowo and Owo Arugbo. Owo Arugbo supports our vulnerable elders in a dignified way. We have made sure that these elders do not have to lose their lives or human dignity before accessing this support from the government. That is one of those things that stand us apart from the dark era that Kwara has exited,” he said.
“A signature programme of KWASSIP is the Trader Moni, popularly known as Owo Isowo. It gives non-interest loans to beneficiaries to invest in petty business while also improving their capacity to create wealth for themselves. We borrowed this fine initiative from Mr. President. This has helped poor families to put food on their table.”
AbdulRazaq implored the beneficiaries of Owo Isowo to make judicious use of the support and ensure they pay back the money with a view to providing incremental loans for those who pay back to the tune of N50,000.
He assured the people that the administration will continue to support the downtrodden, poor and vulnerable with opportunities, financial support and capacity building programmes.
Acting General Manager Kwara State Social Investment Programme Mohammed Brimah, for his part, said the Wednesday’s disbursements for 13,000 were the highest in a day since the programme started.
“We are here today to witness a historic event. I call it historic because firstly it has never happened in the history of Kwara State. Since the inception of the Kwara State Social Investment Programmes, we have disbursed loans to a total of about 30,000 beneficiaries but the most numbers of beneficiaries we have done in a day is about a thousand beneficiaries.
“The closest to this type of activation anywhere else in Nigeria was the Federal Government’s TraderMoni Activation of about 5,000 petty traders in Kaduna. Therefore, this is also the first time this magnitude of activation will be attempted anywhere in Nigeria till date,” Brimah added.
He added that the inclusion of BVN registration and validation for beneficiaries of Kwara State’s Owo Isowo programme were not in the initial national social investment programme design of tradermoni.
“This (invention by the Kwara State Government) is now being adopted by the Federal Government,” Brimah said.
Brimah explained that the disbursement under KWASSIP are for known beneficiaries captured and screened by the scheme unlike the controversial N2bn SME loan secured by the immediate past administration without any form of accountability or transparency.
Iyaloja-General of Kwara and Babaloja-General of Kwara State Hajia Sidikat Akaje and Alhaji AbdulRahman Saad commended AbdulRazaq for his various interventions at making life meaningful to every segment of the society.
“We are very happy with changes that His Excellency has brought to the lives of marketers in Kwara State,” Akaje added.
The activation programme was held at the Kwara State Stadium Complex in Ilorin.