As part of its Social Investment Programmes (SIPs), the Federal Government says 23,400 have received soft loans under its Government’s Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) in 13 states and Abuja.
The beneficiaries from Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Lagos, Osun Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Rivers states and the FCT, are part of the over one million people already enrolled for the programme across the country, billed to benefit from the scheme this year.
According to a statement by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity in the Office of the Vice President, on Monday night explained that the GEEP is a non-interest loan scheme with a one-time 5% administrative fee as costs. It is targeted at micro-enterprises such as traders, artisans, market men and women, entrepreneurs, farmers with the involvement of cooperatives and executed through the Bank of Industry (BOI).
To ease the loan disbursement process, four payment providers have been signed-on for the programme mostly in the urban areas. The next set of payment providers, coming on stream by March 2017, would provide a much wider coverage in the rural areas.
Equally, about 8,436 market associations and cooperatives nationwide have been registered for this scheme through the web portal (www.boi.ng/market) and paper application forms to receive loans ranging from N10,000, to N100,000 per applicant.
While the loans would be paid directly to individuals, they are expected to belong to registered associations and/or cooperatives as the case may be, to ensure that they are peer-endorsed as credible, and to facilitate timely repayments. All beneficiaries must have BVNs and bank accounts.
On the progress made with the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme, actual feeding of pupils is expected to commence this week in Ogun and Oyo States, while Ebonyi State will soon follow suit.
Contrary to insinuations in some quarters and inaccurate reports in some sections of the media, there are no payment issues or any kind of food rationing taking place in states where the Homegrown School Feeding Programme has kicked off.
While the Federal Government has paid all approved cooks based on the number of pupils allocated to each cook, it is the State that provides the number of pupils to be fed. And where those figures change, the next batch of FG payment would reflect it.
Specifically, where the number of pupils increases, the State will communicate the increase and approve the review. The numbers of the new pupils are then physically verified, before a commensurate number of cooks are engaged, trained and then paid.
The FG has also adopted a system where it pays the cooks a 10-day advance payment for feeding. The programme is designed to ensure that no cook feeds more than 150 pupils a day, but in some cases, the numbers are as low as 35 children per cook.
The meal which must be sufficient and nutritious is costed around locally sourced items and approved by the State under the N70 per child provision by the Federal Government. Food quality is monitored at the school level through the head teachers, the Parent Teachers Association, PTA, and the State monitoring teams.
Eleven States have so far indicated their readiness to commence the school feeding programme having met FG’s set criteria.
The progress so far recorded with the Homegrown School Feeding Programme, the N-Power Teach for unemployed graduates, the Conditional Cash Transfer for the poorest, and the GEEP underscores the Buhari Presidency’s commitment to the plight of poor Nigerians and unemployed youths in the country.