FG earmarks N1trn for cottage industries in 774 LGs

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The federal government has proposed to spend one trillion naira on establishment of one cottage industry in each of the 774 local government areas of the country.

Similarly, the private sector is planning a N19 trillion intervention for the project over the next 10 years.

Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, disclosed this Wednesday at an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Special Duties at the National Assembly Abuja.

The industries, Akume said, would specialise in the provision of different goods and services. 

Fielding questions from members of the committee, the minister said, “there is an ongoing discussion with the president on the matter,” adding that if the president approves and the Federal Executive Council also okays it, the ministry will commence the implementation  in June this year.

Apart from the federal government’s plan, the minister told the lawmakers that the  private sector  was also in the process of  committing  N19 trillion for the establishment of cottage industries across the country for over a period of 10 years.

He explained that the one trillion Naira would be sourced through the private sector intervention, at two percent interest rate, which he said was decided to encourage the private- sector participation. 

 “The essence of the plan by the Federal government’s N1trillion cottage industries establishment across the 774 local government councils along with the private sector initiative , estimated to gulp N19 trillion with 10 years of Implementation, is job and wealth creation at the grassroots , particularly for the teeming unemployed  youths,” he said.

Responding to the question on how the ministry intends to deal with the issue of power challenges in the country, and if the programme will run on gas and generator, the minister said the federal government, while designing and working on the establishment of the cottage industries, took into consideration the issue of power sources.

He said the ministry would prioritise solar power where it is available, and hydro and conventional power sources, depending on the local government area involved. 

“We are talking of cottage industries like tea, fruit juices, and not cement industry or auto manufacturing industry. But it cannot be generators, but conventional power sources or solar power sources,” the minister further said.

Earlier in his remarks, the committee Chairman, Senator Abubakar A. Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central), who sought clarifications on the one trillion fund for the projects, asked if the fund would come from government or private sector. 

He also asked the ministry to provide the details of what they were doing at the executive level to avoid repetitive exercise, as some senators may sponsor private member Bill to that effect.

The committee also charged the ministry to be fast with the implementation of the policy by stating clearly what they intend to achieve at a given time. 

Speaking also, the Senator representing Bayelsa East on APC platform, Degi Erienemyo, said the challenges in Nigeria was not lack of policies or programme but implementing them.

According to him, “the poverty in the country is threatening and alarming, which must be seriously tackled through practical implementation of the policy.”

In his own contribution, Senator Francis Adenigba Fadaunsi (PDP Osun East), said the federal government agricultural activities must be youth-based so that when the older generation goes, the younger ones will take over the responsibility of feeding the nation.

NULGE kicks against removal of LGs from Constitution

In a related development, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has condemned the bill seeking to delist local government councils as a tier of government from the 1999 Constitution.

The bill, sponsored by Hon Solomon Bob of the House of Representatives, has already scaled second reading.

Condemning the move, however, NULGE pleaded with the lawmakers and other stakeholders to have a rethink, describing the third tier of government as the catalyst for societal development.

Outgoing NULGE national president, Comrade Ahmed Labbo, appealed to all the progressive-minded members of the National Assembly to ensure the bill did not eventually see the light of the day.

Labbo spoke Wednesday at the inauguration of new national officers of NULGE, led by Comrade Ambali Akeem Olatunji as national president, at the Labour House, Abuja.

“Presently, the 9th National Assembly has commenced another process of constitutional amendments, and I would like to make a special appeal to all our parliamentarians as well as other stakeholders to see local governments as a catalyst for societal development and give its full autonomy in line with the aspiration of our founding fathers.

“In the same vein, we also condemn a bill sponsored by Hon Soloman Bob to de-register local government as the third tier of government and appeal to all progressive members of the National Assembly to kill the bill at the appropriate stage in the overall development of the country.

 “I will also not hesitate to condemn another anti-workers bill currently before the House of Representatives sponsored by Hon Datti Mohammad which seeks to remove minimum wage from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list.

“The National Assembly should not be a rubber stamp to the political elites whose main interest is to continue to inflict hardship on workers so as to maintain their rent-seeking activities,” Labbo said.

Rendering his stewardship since taking over following the death of Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, he said: “In the last six months, we have remained firm and continue to wage the struggle for total autonomy of local government believing it is the only panacea that will address the inherent challenges confronting the grassroots where most of the population in the country lives and to save the job security of our members.

 “We have also embarked on reconciliation drive with restored peace from the crisis facing the Union which also paves the way to conduct a successful National Delegates Conference.”

 Accepting the mantle of leadership, Comrade Ambali said his administration would vigorously pursue genuine and meaningful reconciliation to ensure return of sustainable peace the union.

 Ambali said: “In line with modern practices of trade unionism, unions no longer depend on check-off dues system alone, hence this government shall take a bold step in Investments diversification which shall broaden the economic and financial base of our Union.

“We shall pursue vigorously from where our late leader stopped on the issue of Local Government Autonomy and also ensure the successful passage of the Local Government Scheme of Service.”

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