The Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Ebonyi State Government are to collaborate in a N4 billion matching funds to enhance the fortunes of civil servants in the state through agricultural activities.
A statement from the bank yesterday in Lagos disclosed that the agro-based fund was coming on the heels of a N4 billion MSME Matching Fund activated in July 2017.
Managing Director of BoI, Mr Olukayode Pitan, noted that the fund was to develop and promote entrepreneurship, boost agriculture and its value chain businesses in the state.
He also noted that the fund would create a solid future for both MSMEs and the State’s civil servants who were the engine room for the execution of state policies and programmes.
According to him, the fund is being offered at five per cent and 6.2 per cent for medium term (3 years to 5 years) and working capital financing respectively, with moratorium periods of three to 12 months.
Pitan commended the harmonious working relationship of the bank and the State’s Implementation Committee (SIC) in identifying viable MSMEs across the 13 local government councils of the state.
“So far, the Bank has approved a total of 34 loans valued at over N206 million to MSMEs in the state under the Matching Fund.
“In addition, the Bank has also approved and granted loans worth over N3.17 billion (N1.81 billion disbursed) from its direct funds to 22 other businesses in Ebonyi State,” he said.
Pitan said that the sectors supported included rice milling and processing, quarry and solid minerals, food processing, roofing sheet production, water bottling and packaging, mattresses and foam production and metal fabrication.
He said that BoI also impacted the economy of the state through Federal Government’s social security scheme – Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP)- targeted at traders and artisans.
According to him, the bank supports 2,525 beneficiaries to the tune of N126.22 million.
In his remarks, Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, said that Ebonyi was the pioneer of an initiative aimed at improving the lives of civil servants across the country.
He noted that proffering solution to the low and erratic earnings of civil servants ought to be addressed as a national issue, and that if civil servants were rich, the nation would be rich.
“I get so bothered about the issues of civil servants in the country, because their take home cannot match market forces and yet many states in our federation cannot pay this meager salary to civil servants,” he said.
He assured civil servants that the fund would be ready to be assessed from this month, adding that the Constitution permits civil servants to engage in agriculture.
Traders Protest FG’s Move To Restore Festac Town
The traders on Wednesday, protested at the FHA office in Festac Town against the demolition of their market, following the demolition of illegal structures by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) ahead of the restoration.
The Tide recalls that there was a petition to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, in 2020 about illegal structures that had taken over Festac Town.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on the restoration of Festac town organised by FHA, last year, its South-West Zonal Manager, Mr Akintola Olagbemiro, said, “This year, we commenced the restoration of Festac town, following the consent judgement from the court against illegal occupants of Festac land.
“Our action is to save the residents from the insecurity that has taken over the entire Festac town as a result of illegal structures everywhere”.
The chairman of allottees of First Gate to Third Gate, Mr Kole Olatunji, in his remarks at the meeting said the land from First Gate to Third Gate was allocated between 1985 and 1999, noting that with the consent judgment, original owners of the land as allocated should take over their plots.
But the chairman of plank market, Muhammed Bello, protested the seven-day notice given to traders to vacate the place without alternative arrangements.
Bello said: “How do they expect us to remove our wares in seven days?
“What we want is that they should allow us to remain there and we will pay whatever amount they ask us to pay”.
Speaking in the same vein, the chairman of Cane Chair and Furniture Association, Emmanuel Okoye said: “We need freedom. Let them tell us where they want us to stay. That place was swampy. We filled the place with several millions of Naira which we got as loans.
“We also rely on loans to do our business. Whatever the government wants us to pay; we are ready to pay to remain there. We have been there for 27 years. What we lost to the demolition is over N300 million”.
Fuel Tanker Explosion Kills Five, Injures Two In Ogun
Eyewitness accounts revealed that a truck bearing 33,000 litres of petroleum product was descending the steep portion of the road when its tank suddenly detached from truck’s body and tumbled to the ground with a bang.
The explosion, the witnesses said, killed five persons on the spot, while two other persons were injured.
The Tide learnt that the seven victims were all residents of the area where the accident occurred.
Confirming the incident, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Commander, Idiroko Unit, Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, said five deaths were recorded in the accident which occurred at about 8.15 am on Wednesday.
According to him, the remains of the dead had been claimed by their families.
He disclosed that a bus and a motorcycle were also caught in a web of the explosion and razed.
He said, “no vehicle rammed into the tanker. The tank dropped off from the back of the tanker and exploded. The number of persons involved are seven; five dead, two injured.
“The driver had taken away the head of the truck as at the time we got there. But we have allowed the police to take charge and handle that aspect”.
Travellers To Access $4,000 As CBN Boosts Forex Supplies
The CBN had said in a recent statement that it had concluded plans to increase the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks to meet legitimate needs.
This followed the warning by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to Deposit Money Banks to desist from denying customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange.
The purposes to access forex included Personal Travel Allowance, Basic Travel Allowance, tuition fees, and medical payments as well as Small and Medium Enterprises transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment proceeds, the CBN had stated.
Sources from some of the banks said those travelling on business trips could also access a maximum amount of $5,000 for each trip.
At a virtual Bankers’ Committee meeting last week, the bankers discussed how the CBN intended to assist with forex to ensure availability for the upcoming summer period and the return of students to school in September.
The CBN also said the BDCs would continue to have their weekly allocations.
The committee observed that the rates were going up.
It stated, “The CBN has said that all the banks must make availability at all times and anyone who wants to buy BTA, PTA, medical fees, student school fees and all the eligible invisible purchases to ensure that Nigerians are not forced to go and queue in the parallel market.
“So what the Central Bank is doing is to encourage all banks to make sure that there is available forex at all times, and that his information should be communicated on all our platforms.
“We are asking our customers to come to the branches and for BTA, for example, present the required documents, which are basically your international passport, your visa, your valid ticket and fill up the form in the bank.
“And what we have been instructed to do is ensure that we don’t turn anybody back and that we should request from the Central Bank once we exhaust the forex that we have.
“The idea is to have a hitch-free summer period and the resumption for children to go back to school. The idea is to ensure there is less pressure on the forex and then the rates will come down”.
Speaking during the virtual meeting, the Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said, “I think again as part of the Central Bank’s role in terms of price stability and the need to support small and medium enterprises, there was highlight of the need for banks to go and support SMEs who import small raw materials for them to set up their businesses”.
The Managing Director, Ecobank, Patrick Akinwuntan, said, “All banks are available to ensure forex need is met.”
Managing Director, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, said the CBN had provided sufficient foreign exchange to meet the needs of all legitimate Nigerian travellers and therefore, the idea of going to any other market should not arise at all.
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