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Monday, 17 December 2018

Entrepreneurs blast FG over poor empowerment schemes, threaten strike

Entrepreneurs blast FG over poor empowerment schemes, threaten strike

—INDUSTRIALISTS under the aegis of the National Association of Enterprise Employers, NAEE, from the six geopolitical zones of the country, have expressed disappointment at the alleged lack of commitment by the Federal Government to empower entrepreneurs in the country to fast track economic growth.

Fielding questions from newsmen in Uyo on their planned nationwide strike, they lamented that the various Federal Government programmes that would have helped to reduce unemployment, youth restiveness and poverty, have not been given the needed priority attention due to bottlenecks and insincerity.

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CBN, BOI denied funds to over 4 million entrepreneurs – Dr. Akpan 

National President of NAEE, Dr. Ukai Solomon Akpan wondered why the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN,  and Bank of Industry, BOI, which are operators of Anchor Borrowers Scheme and other Federal Government programmes have failed to release funds required to encourage such programmes,  thereby making it difficult for new and existing businesses in the country to grow.

“It is three years now that NAEE applied to the CBN for Federal Government grant of N200 billion for over four million members across the nation, regrettably there has been no response from the CBN.

2-week strike

“And during our last meeting held November 9 at our national secretariat here in Akwa Ibom, attended by vice-presidents from the six geopolitical zones, 36 state chairmen and stakeholders, it was resolved that we will embark on two weeks strike and peaceful demonstration since CBN is not allowing Nigerian entrepreneurs to access the numerous empowerment grants.

“On December 21, we are going to shut down our various businesses nationwide. We want the government to know that there is no economy without entrepreneurs the world over. We should be considered paramount but since they are not giving us listening ear, we are going to use any means to send our message to Nigerians,” he said.

Shut down

Akpan added: “Throughout the two weeks that we are going to shut down, there will be no selling and buying, even people hawking sachet water on the streets.  The money is there, so why refuse us access to the fund? We have observed with dismay that even the Anchor Borrowers Scheme and many other schemes are scams.”

8,000 farmers angry with CBN in Delta – Mr. Stephens

The position of Akpan that the Federal Government Anchor Borrowers Scheme is a scam was corroborated by the National Vice-President of NAEE, South-South zone, Mr Greg Stephens, who pointed out that non-release of funds had left thousands of farmers that keyed into the programme in his state frustrated.

“In Delta State where I come from, over 8,000 of our members applied for the Cassava project under the Anchor Borrowers Scheme. And it is almost three years now, but as I speak with you, nothing has been done. We have been waiting without any action from CBN.

“They have been telling us to do this and that. We met all their demands. We cleared the land, they came to see it. But because of bottlenecks, the farmers are denied assistance from one farming season to another. And you can imagine the farmers waiting one, two years without any hope, despite government promises to assist them. And the people are angry,” he asserted.

Stephens said: “We are saying that our patience has been exhausted. We have waited for more than three years without response from the Federal Government and operators of these programmes that could have boosted the food production and economic growth of this country.”

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Shame Nigeria still imports toothpick – Rev Oguzie

Chairman, NAEE, Rivers State, Rev Hilary Oguzie, said it is shameful that Nigeria was still importing things like toothpick because entrepreneurs are not encouraged. He stressed that “even the youth restiveness in  Rivers State is linked to idleness.”

Others from South-East and South-West zones equally observed that lack of funds remains the major reason why most industries in the country could not survive or expand, to create more jobs in the system, stressing that Nigeria has what it takes to stand and compete favourably with China and Dubai, but for lack of support to its entrepreneurs.

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