VP’s Remarks At The 27th Edition Of MSME Clinics In Gombe State
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 27th MSME CLINIC IN GOMBE STATE ON THE 30th OF MARCH, 2021
I am very glad to be here in Gombe State, the Jewel of the Savanah and I bring you warm greetings from President Muhammadu Buhari, who holds this State very dearly to his heart.
Let me take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to His Excellency, the dynamic Governor of this State, Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, first for the invitation to be here and to join his hardworking team in that they’re doing and all the great work that is being done here and also for the encouragement that he has given to so many in this State and more importantly, his government’s commitment to promoting small and medium-sized businesses in this State.
Your Excellency, despite the huge challenges that this State faces, I have been impressed by the can-do spirit of your government and the people of this State. This is why Gombe State is a State of great promise and why I am convinced that this is a State that will demonstrate to Nigeria and the world, that supporting small businesses, setting and spending public resources on the right priorities will bring prosperity, growth, jobs and poverty reduction and that all of these are possible.
I know for example, that in your budget this year, the Budget of Resilience, you will be investing significantly in infrastructure and social investment to deal with extreme poverty. I’ve also followed the recent launching of the Health Insurance Scheme. These are critical steps in human capital development alongside the physical infrastructure development, which are the strong foundations for the rapid development led by small and medium enterprises. So not surprisingly, is stated ambition or vision of this State, is to be truly the industrial hub of the Northeast. That is in sight, especially as we focus on the agro-processing value chain.
Some time ago, I read a piece on the great successes being recorded in cotton production and processing, here in Gombe State, with the support of the CBN’s Anchors Borrowers’ Programme. This is clearly a great opportunity as the cotton growing and processing value chain will create opportunities for several small and medium scale businesses.
Earlier today, I visited the amazing and inspiring groundnut oil and rice processing hub; a place where thousands of young people are employed. Producing tons of groundnut oil daily and hundreds of bags of rice.
But how can we support your efforts? How can the Federal Government support the efforts of the Gombe State government? Perhaps we can look at the possibility of Shared Facilities for some aspects of the agro-processing value chain that you are already doing. The national MSME clinics program has facilitated the establishment of Shared Facilities for MSMEs in Benue, Bauchi, and Oyo State, with others to be established in Kaduna, Kebbi, Anambra, Ogun, Ebonyi, Edo, and Katsina State over the next year.
These Shared Facilities will provide fully equipped cluster style spaces that MSMEs can use at a reasonable cost, thus sparing them the financial burden of having to buy their own equipment. Where possible, these Shared Facilities will be pre-certified by the relevant regulatory agencies. A good example is the 200,000 capacity yam storage facility for micro small and medium enterprises in Benue State at the Zaki Biam International yam market.
The storage facility is designed to address the problem of post-harvest losses, which is one of the greatest impediments to actualizing the immense potential of the agricultural sector. Nigeria produces 17 million tons of yams annually but loses almost 40% of this yield due to the lack of storage.
I’m also glad to note the commitment of the State Government to investing in young people and their innovative efforts and we’ve seen that all around here today.
At the height of our fears about obtaining ventilators, at the height of the pandemic, I read about three young men, here in Gombe State who invented Nigeria’s first medical-grade ventilator. One of them, Aliyu Hassan, spoke about how they had worked very hard in a room in his home where they ate, slept and developed all of the various inventions that culminated in the ventilator.
The strength of the economy of this State and our nation is in the innovative prowess and entrepreneurship of our young people; we have both talent and human resources in abundance.
Today, we are witnessing an important development in our national life. Our young people are proving that they are capable, that they can do wonderful things, and they are showing us the way of the future.
This 27th edition of the National MSME Clinics, as you know, is a Federal Government initiative to work with State Governments to support small businesses. The reason why this is necessary is those small businesses are the engine of growth of any economy.
MSMEs also employed the largest number of people, so the clinics were designed to bring regulatory agencies whose work affects the business experience of MSMEs to meet with this small business. This gives MSMEs an opportunity to bring their business-related concerns to the attention of the regulatory agencies for solutions. This is a very important part of the work that this Federal Government initiative does.
We are looking forward to ensuring that even in Gombe State, we are able to bring the regulatory agencies as we’ve done today so that they themselves can see what the problems of the small businesses are and help them to achieve these ends.
One of the very important initiatives of the Federal Government, which President Muhammadu Buhari himself oversaw, was immediately we began to see the economic fallout of the pandemic, the President decided that we must support small businesses all across the country. What he did was to constitute what we call the Economic Sustainability Committee, which he asked me to head, and we drew up a plan. The plan was to help young people who are in business and several others, including those who are vulnerable in one way or the other.
One of the very important parts of that programme is the Survival Fund, and you have seen already some of those beneficiaries of the Survival Fund. This programme is managed by a steering committee, headed by Ambassador Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, who spoke a few minutes ago. Gombe State has been actively engaged in ensuring that its citizens benefit from all of the tracks of the MSME related schemes.
We have a few of those programmes and you’ve seen some of those who have benefited already. Thus far, in the Payroll Support for Gombe State, we have ensured that about 9,085 employees, from close to 2,000 MSMEs in the educational sector, have benefited from the scheme. Another 10,000 artisans and transporters in this State have also benefited from the scheme. Up to 6,000 new business names have been registered free of charge with the CAC from businesses that are in this State. In all, MSMEs in Gombe State has been supported by the Federal Government with almost N1.2 billion under the Economic Sustainability Plan and there is more to come.
The Federal Government is going to provide even more support because as we’ve been informed by the chairperson and project coordinator, that additional businesses and employees in Gombe State are currently undergoing verification with a view to be shortlisted for payment. This State will receive even more support from the Federal Government in the coming months.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that our country depends entirely on the young people, on the small businesses and we have seen so many of them here today. Even going around here today – going around the stores today, we have seen so many young men and women who are producing things, who are inventing things, who are doing great things.
The future of our country rests in the hands of you – young people, and the business owners, the entrepreneurs all over this State and all of our country.
I want to say that the Federal Government pledges to work with the Gombe State Government to give you all the support that you need in order to ensure that your businesses succeed.
God bless Gombe State and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.