The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, on Tuesday announced that the Federal Government is set to provide a non-interest loan of N50,000 to 1.5 million market women under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program.
This initiative aims to boost their capital and foster business expansion.
She stated that the N75 billion market women fund, to be named the Iyaloja Fund for underprivileged female traders, is set to be inaugurated on October 17th.
But, the program seems to be begging for more questions than answers.
The anxiety stems from such programs like Trader Moni, and others for which the impact assessments and accountability have not been carried out by neither the immediate past government nor the Bola Tinubu government before embarking on this.
Besides, most Nigerians are surprised that despite the promise of reviewing the highly criticised social register by minister, Edu, why the rush into the Iyaloja and other funds, when she has not told Nigerians whether the register has been reviewed, updated and cleaned.
Again, another area of concern is where the government intends to get funds to execute these programs, even when supplementary budget has not been presented to the national assembly.
“What is all about these funds like Iyaloja, Jaga and Hugo, and are these subject of research or for political expediency or in the spirit of tokenism?
Have the impact assessments of Traders Moni for instance, been carried out before embarking on another one?,” asks a concerned Nigerian.
Another stakeholder asks, “In this era of scarcity and hardship when government has a lot to contend with, where will President Tinubu get the funds to execute these programs, Is the government planning to toe the line of immediate past government by embarking on borrowing expedition or worst still revert to CBN for borrowing,”?
But, during an advocacy visit to the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, the minister said in Abuja that the program would unfold in three phases, with the first phase set to benefit 500,000 individuals.
“We will start right away with the GEEP Programme; we have Iyaloja Funds, which is equivalent to Market Women Money. We have the Jaga Funds, which is a capital fund for traders; and Farmers’ Money, which is called the Hugo Fund. The Farmer’s Money will be provided to the poorest of the farmers to enable them to go into the next farming season.
“The Iyaloja Fund will be providing for poor market traders in the market, helping them to improve their capital and expand their businesses. These are non-interest loans given to these persons.”
Speaking further, Edu stated that President Bola Tinubu’s administration remained dedicated to combating poverty by unveiling an eight-point agenda.
As part of this effort, they announced a Conditional Cash Transfer program, providing N75,000 in three instalments to assist 15 million households, equivalent to 62 million individuals.
She mentioned that the Federal Government offers various programs, such as grants for vulnerable groups through N-Power, which aims to create jobs for the unemployed within the community.
Additionally, they have several other initiatives like the Renewed Hope Shelter, which aims to provide shelter for the impoverished, Internally Displaced Persons, and refugees.
“This program is not the one you give contracts to people to build houses. The communities will build their houses by themselves. We would just provide the enabling environment. And they are expected to source for everything they will use to build that house locally, including the furniture in the house,” the minister said.
She requested the Minister of Information’s assistance in promoting the program, especially through the National Orientation Agency.
This involvement aims to inform communities and facilitate the inclusion of the most vulnerable individuals in the National Social Register, which is presently undergoing verification.