Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno on Tuesday disbursed N814.2 million empowerment support to 9,100 youths and vulnerable persons in the state.
Zulum who inaugurated the disbursement exercise on Tuesday in Maiduguri said the support has been provided under the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) programme.
He said the gesture underscored his administration’s quest to minimise youth restiveness and empower them to become productive and self-reliant.
The government, he said, empowered over 7,200 Small and Medium Enterprises in 2020, while 2,000 tricycle operators and 220 taxi drivers benefited from the gesture in Maiduguri and Jere Local Government Areas of the state.
“We supported an appreciable number of auto mechanics and constructed a model state of art mechanic village.
“In 2021; 13,500 entrepreneurs had been supported with N500 million in Gwoza, Ngala and Jere LGAs in an effort to boost their businesses.
“This magnanimous programme is geared towards providing soft loans amounting to N719.2 million to 9,100 SMEs under the NG-CARES Result Area 3,” he said.
He said that an additional N93 million would be disbursed to 54 beneficiaries due to the nature of their businesses which are not incorporated under the NG-CARES scheme.
While enjoying the beneficiaries to ensure effective utilisation of the fund by engaging in productive activities, Zulum urged those who were yet to benefit to exercise patience as arrangements were on to expand the scope of the programme to enhance participation.
Zulum also lauded the World Bank for its support of the programme aimed at improving the economic fortunes of the state.
Dr Bello Ibrahim, Managing Director, Borno Renaissance Micro Finance Bank, said the state government expended over N4 billion on poverty reduction and youth empowerment programmes in the past three years.
He said the bank disbursed N1.3 billion in 2020; N1.2 billion in 2021 and N700 million in 2022.
Earlier, Maryam Shehu, Permanent Secretary, Borno State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, said NG-CARES was an emergency operation meant to support the poor and vulnerable people to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The objective is to expand access to livelihood support and food security services as well as grants for the poor and vulnerable households”.
By Guardian Nigeria