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Applause as 4,000 artisans are lifted with N200m grant in Kwara

STEPHEN OLUFEMI ONI reports on the fresh support of a N200 million grant by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s administration to 4,000 Artisans in Kwara State to boost their businesses with a view to strengthening the local economy

The Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP), established in the beginning of the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has to all intents and purposes been growing in leaps and bounds with accolades from the people of the state, especially the beneficiaries. Interestingly, KWASSIP, established majorly to positively impact the lives of the people of the state, especially the poor, the vulnerable, the unemployed and numerous others at the bottom of the economic pyramid without any hope of accessing any funding, has continued to be applauded as a result of thousands of lives that have been positively impacted by the series of people-oriented programmes under it.

Pomp
Little wonder, it was pomp as Governor AbdulRazaq on January 12 this year launched another round of the disbursement of an impressive N200 million grant to no fewer than 4,000 artisans in the state to boost their businesses and strengthen the local economy as each artisan smiled home with N50,000. Prior to this historic launch, series of this kind of programme had come up under KWASSIP, including the administration’s support of a N600 million grant to 30,000 women and petty traders across the 16 local government areas of the state in September last year and the support to at least 490 SMEs with interest-free loans also in December 2022 to grow their enterprises, an initiative that targeted businesses owned by young people. The interest-free loan was given through KWAPRENEUR 3.0, a third in the series of the youth-focused initiative to support young people to thrive. KWAPRENEUR, which is one of the many poverty alleviating activities of KWASSIP, according to AbdulRazaq, is one of the ways to provide funding for small businesses, lubricate the economy, and reduce poverty, saying: “We are simply trying to give everyone a fair shot and a sense of belonging within available resources.”

Governor speaks

Speaking at the launch of the artisans’ latest N200 million grant, Governor AbdulRazaq said: “This programme is one of our initiatives to support local industries, talents and SMEs to grow. This prevents job export, strengthens the local economy, reduces poverty rate, and improves living standards in the state.

“Before our administration in 2019, Kwara State did not have any structured and legally backed initiative to encourage and support local industries, selfemployment, petty trading, and reduce poverty. “History bears us witness that we are doing that already through the Kwara State Social Investment Programme. We will not drop the ball.” It would be recalled that the AbdulRazaq administration had in 2020 contracted the production of 500,000 facemasks to the state branch of the Nigerian Tailoring Union to curb the spread of COVID-19, apart from several other supports which were extended to the group.

The governor said the artisans are largely the custodians of various skills and key drivers of sustainable economic growth, adding that their inclusion in the intervention programmes of his administration would help to encourage skills’ development and grow the economy. He said: “What we are doing today takes our policy of inclusive growth to a new height. Artisans are the custodians of various skills and key drivers of sustainable economic growth.

Their inclusion in this intervention will therefore help to encourage skills development adand grow the economy.” He congratulated all the beneficiaries and urged them to make good use of the grant for good impacts on the society, saying more dividends of democracy are in the offing for the people of the state. The epoch making event was witnessed by the creme de la creme in the society including cabinet members, other officials of government; labour leaders, and party supporters, including the Acting General Manager for Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP), Abdulquowiyu Olododo; Director General State All Progressives Congress (APC) Campaign Council, Ambassador Abdulfatai Seriki and thousands of artisans.

Careful selection

For his part, Olododo, said the 4,000 artisans were carefully selected from the 13,000 applicants across the 16 local government areas, describing it as another milestone by the AbdulRazaq administration as well as a giant step towards the eradication of poverty in the state. He particularly lauded the governor for his leadership quality, his passion for the masses, and how he has been supporting the KWASSIP to thrive in its given task. “I must commend the efforts of our visionary, committed, and prudent leader, His Excellency Mallam Abdul- Rahman AbdulRazaq, who, without him, we wouldn’t have been able to come this far. We say a big thank you, sir,” he said. The President, State Artisans Congress, Alhaji Jimoh Adeshina, appreciated the Governor for his leadership style and how he has been supporting the local artisans in various ways, adding that the current grant of N50,000 each for 4000 artisans was unique and would, no doubt, make a great impact in the lives of the recipients.

Artisans’ boss

He said: “We should be thankful to God for the gift of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq. The governor has fulfilled all his promises he made to Kwara artisans during the 2019 campaigns. Importantly, the governor fulfilled his promise to patronise us if elected to power.”

Adeshina added that Kwara artisans cannot quantify the large impacts of support they are getting from the AbdulRazaq administration, alluding to various programmes that his members benefitted from. He added: “During the heat of the COVID-19 crisis, Governor AbdulRazaq contracted our tailoring members to produce all the facemasks for the use of the state. He has also been engaging the locals, who are mostly our members, in the execution of government contracts, thereby helping to return our members who had turned to Okada riders because of the low patronage in the past.

“The government has been building schools and hospitals, and constructing roads. Kwara artisans are most of the people working on project sites. Bricklayers, carpenters and tillers, among others, are benefitting from this. That means we benefit more from this government. “Apart from that, the governor also gives scholarship slots to 50 of our members every year to attend the capacity building programme at the IVTEC to enable us to meet up with the modern standards. Just recently, the governor gave 400 local artisans scholarships to attend the training and bought working tools for the participants to function properly. All what you are doing has impacts on the masses, but we artisans benefit more. We cannot thank Your Excellency enough.”

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