By Jacinta Nwachukwu
The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), said on Wednesday that its micro-finance project, PAP Cooperative Society Limited (PAPCOSOL), would be expanded to accommodate women groups already engaged in similar practices in running mini businesses successfully.
The Interim Administrator of PAP, Maj.-Gen. Barry Ndiomu (rtd), said this in Abuja when he received in his office, the leadership and members of the Niger Delta Women for Sustainable Development (NDWSD), a coalition of community women groups.
The cooperative society scheme was primarily designed for ex-agitators, but Ndiomu said that they were planning to incorporate into the cooperative scheme women community credit thrift schemes that thrive in the Niger Delta.
Ndiomu noted the critical role women could play in changing the socio- economic narratives of the region, if provided with the right tools and encouragement.
“We will look at the thrift or osusu scheme as you have highlighted, to see how it can be incorporated into the PAP cooperative programmes through a collaborative effort, to improve the livelihoods of the people.
“I am very happy with some of the things you mentioned, especially the idea of giving attention to women in the activities of the PAP which has always been part of our priority in contract awards.
“Our priority extends to scholarship awards for undergraduates and post graduate female students, vocational and empowerment programmes,” he said.
Ndiomu noted that there were females on the PAP pilot programme, and that with time, the cooperative scheme would be the game changer to address issues of empowerment for the people of the region.
The Interim Administrator also expressed gratitude to the women for the visit and for the words of encouragement to spur him on.
Earlier in her address, Helen Bob, who led the group, thanked Ndiomu for granting them audience.
She noted the role of women in nation building and called on relevant agencies to attach more importance in developing the capacity of women.
She also called for the provision of micro-finance loans for rural Niger Delta women through their community credit thrift cooperative society popularly known as osusu or okpu.
“This is an age long self-financing scheme among rural Niger Delta women and therefore, identifying with it will enhance financial guarantee for the rural Niger Delta woman.
“Our group is capable of organising periodic decentralised training for the women in their various communities to fully utilise the funds for their thrift cooperative societies to grow their micro-economies through petty commodity trading,” she said.
She advocated for the provision of facilities “for improved preservation techniques of seafood and farm produce, fishing and farming equipment” to reduce the stress in carrying out those activities.
“General Ndiomu is doing a good job here and he needs to be encouraged.
“It is high time people of the Niger Delta stopped being critical of their sons and daughters in positions of trust.
The ‘pull him down’ syndrome must stop,” she added. The highlight of the visit was the investiture of the Interim Administrator as the first patron of the Niger Delta Women forSustainable Development. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Emmanuel Afonne