The Federal Government has disbursed no fewer than N38 billion in loans to support Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSEs) over the past four years.
This is according to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke on Thursday at an event organised by the Aisha Buhari Foundation in Abuja.
He lamented that the global COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sharp drop in income of most families in the country, as well as economies of the world.
Osinbajo also noted that employment has taken a dive, especially as the pandemic largely affected young people who make up the majority of the workforce.
“A total of 38 billion in loans have been disbursed over the past for years. And of the 1.1 million beneficiaries of conditional cash transfer, 98 per cent are women,” he said.
“Of the 2.4 million beneficiaries of our Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme, 1.4 million people were women – that is 56.4 per cent of beneficiaries were women.
The Vice President stated that in 2020, the Federal Executive Council approved a World Bank credit facility in the sum of $500 million to finance the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Project, to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas of participating states which are Borno, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Plateau.
He equally addressed violence and other abuses against women, recalling efforts made by the government to enhance access to justice for victims.
“In November 2019, in an effort to enhance access to justice, we secured a toll-free emergency number and shortcode for the FCT- SGBV Response Team, with the generous support of Airtel,” said the Vice President.
“We also developed Referral Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Response in Nigeria and a National Guide for the Establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria, to further enhance coordination.
“Also in 2019, the President directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a special panel to investigate cases of unlawful arrests, assault and Sexual & Gender-Based Violence in the Federal Capital Territory following complaints of raids of night clubs and arrests of women by the police.”
Commending the Future Assured programme for the impact of its interventions across health, education and social welfare, Osinbajo said, “it certainly has been an exciting six years.”
He listed some of the impactful projects executed by the initiative as “the educational initiatives, especially the Youth Education Empowerment Programme (YEEP) where large numbers of youths are given tutorial classes in preparation for WAEC, NECO, NABTEB and JAMB; and support to IDPs that return to their communities with relief materials, including foodstuff, clothing, beddings, and building materials.”
Aside from the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, other dignitaries present at the event include Osinbajo’s wife, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; his counterpart in the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Godswill Akpabio; and top United Nations officials, among others.