The Federal Government Nigeria has instituted a N1.6 billion National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF). It was in fulfilment of the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign promise of better living standards for improved socio-economic growth.
Women Affairs & Social Development Minister Mrs. Aisha Alhassan made the disclosure at a town hall meeting with women groups in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The minister yesterday arrived in the state on a two-day working visit to sensitise the people on the Federal Government’s Social Intervention Programmes (SIP).
Mrs. Alhassan said that her ministry has a mandate to cater for the welfare and wellbeing of 70 per cent of the population, including women, children, the aged, people with disabilities, the vulnerable and distressed persons.
According to the minister, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has put together a Social Investment Intervention Programme (SIIP), which has five pillars geared toward better living standards and improved social economic growth of the people.
She listed the five pillars as: the Home Grown School Feeding Programme, the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, the Job Creation Programme called N-Power, the Student Bursary Programme known as STEM and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
However, out of the programmes, the minister said the GEEP was being implemented by her ministry in collaboration with the Bank of Industry.
Describing NAWEF as an exclusive scheme for women who are engaged in productive enterprises, she added that GEEP was designed for artisans, farmers (male and female), market women or entrepreneurs engaged in productive enterprise
According to the scheme, each beneficiary can get between N10, 000 to N100, 000 as loan, which is repayable in one month grace after disbursement, before repayment starts.
The minister identified the government’s target as those with have no source of income or working capital to undertake productive livelihood the government aim is to reach.
She warned that the NAWEF or GEEP “is not for distributing free money or government largess for buying wrappers and other luxury goods”.
Mrs. Alhassan added: “To ensure the sustainability of the programme and to depart from past failed programmes, sanctions have been put in place to deter abuse of the programmes”.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who hosted the minister in his office, expressed optimism that the visit would enable women groups in the state to access the fund and open more opportunities for them in the shortest possible time.
Speaking through his deputy, Otunba Moses Adeyemo, Ajimobi assured that women in the state are very enterprising, eager and highly capable of contributing to nation-building, especially by being in alignment with the change mantra of the present political dispensation.
Welcoming the women to the town hall meeting, Women Affairs, Community Development, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Commissioner of, Mrs. Atinuke Osunkoya, said the event was remarkable in that the women have been expecting to access the GEEP and NAWEF programmes since it was launched at the federal level.