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February 24, 2024

Group sets agenda for Atiku’s proposed $10bn for SMEs

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By Adeyemi Adeleye

The Nigerian Business Communities (NBC) for PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, have begun conversations around Abubakar’s proposed $10 billion intervention for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) if elected.

Abubakar is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The group deliberated at a “Panel Discussion on Atiku Abubakar’s Proposed $10 Billion Stimulus Package for SMEs in Nigeria” organised in Lagos on Friday.

According to NBC, it is setting the agenda for judicious disbursements of the funds to achieve purpose.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Abubakar had in September 2022 unveiled plans to revive the economy by launching a $10 billion economic stimulus fund within his first 100 days in office if  elected in the Feb. 25, 2023 presidential polls.

However, while Abubakar did not say how the fund would be generated, he assured it would  support MSMEs as they presented the greatest opportunity for inclusive economic growth.

Speaking, Mr Sam Aiboni, the NBC’s National Secretary, said the panel would provide a policy document and direction to initiate the best way to disburse the proposed SMEs stimulus funds for the recovery and revitalisation of the economy.

Aiboni, the host, said: “As members of business communities, this $10 billion stimulus funds for SMEs, this is dear to our heart.

“Our discussion is to come up with framework on how the money would be generated and how it will be spent and better allocated to effectively move the economy forward through SMEs.”

He said that part of PDP ‘s campaign manifestoes was liberal economy, hence the party’s recognition and commitment to use SMEs as tool to recover the economy and move it forward.

Aiboni said that the group was holding on to Abubakar’s commitment to rejig the economy through the funds for businesses to thrive.

He added: “As a group, we want to be proactive and not wait until he gets into office. We don’t want this proposed funds to go the same way previous ones have gone.”

According to him, the group is also planning a two-day national summit to equally interrogate issues around the proposed funds and will present its recommendations

He said that basic infrastructure, capacity building, enabling environment, good policies and access to funds by the right entrepreneurs and inventors could change the nation’s story.

A Panelist, Dr Abubakar Musa, who is an Agricultural Consultant and Software Engineer, said that if the funds were effectively administered, it could turn around the future of Nigeria and grow the nation’s GDP through SMEs.

Musa, who noted that a lot of fundings by past governments had not yielded any results, emphasized the need to identify key sectors to channel the funds for maximum impacts on economy.

Advocating investment method in disbursing the funds rather than giving people grants or loans, Musa said that private sector should be allowed to drive the funds without bringing in politics to have results.

Another discussant, Mr Ladi Ogunseye, a Fintech and Marketing Consultant, who expressed hope in the proposed intervention funds, however stressed that its success or failure would be determined by the caliber of people saddled with the responsibility of building the system and disbursing the funds.

According to him, if people who understand the challenges are engaged without politics and selfish interest, the funds will thrive and succeed in building businesses and economy,” he said.

Ogunseye advocated a sustainable national policy for SMEs that “will have an everlasting impacts on businesses.”

Another panelist, Mr Kunle Ademola-Sadipe, a Real Estate expert, who stressed the need for right set of people, said that every sector of the economy must access the funds for maximum impact.

“If the structure is well done and the fund get to the right set of people, our economy will be better for it. It should be private sector driven with government funding.

“The ripple effects will be felt around the country. It is not a loss, it is a gain because the funds will flow down if judiciously disbursed,” Ademola-Sadipe said.

The real estate expert, who noted that infrastructure remained very key, said that such funds would solve a lot of problems for young Nigerians with talents and ideas to build businesses.

Another Panelist, Mr Iwalewa Jacobs, a Finance and SMEs Specialist said that Abubakar should have a stakeholders’ forum to diagnose challenges of various region in order to be better disburse the money.

Meanwhile, Mr Joseph Edgar, an Investment Banker and Columnist maintained that government should stay away from businesses but rather concentrate on provision security, favourable policies and enabling environment for entrepreneurs to do business and create value.

Edgar said that Nigeria needed to raise a generation of thinkers while government provides the basic infrastructure, saying “We need dreamers who will not rely on government.

In his remarks, Alhaji Gambo Abdullahi, the National Chairman of NBC, represented by Alhaji Garba Bello, the National Director, Administration, said that Abubakar stood for the masses within high concern for them.

“This proposed $10 billion is for the masses and when it is injected, there will be succour and relief, peace and development. Atiku Abubakar is for the masses and he is trying to see how the masses will get succour,” Abdullahi said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the panel discussion, moderated by an International Broadcast Journalist, Yemisi Lanre-Idowu, has so many young entrepreneurs in attendance. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)


Edited by Vivian Ihechu

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