VP’s Remarks At The 28th Edition Of The MSME Clinics In Jigawa State

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I bring you the very warm greetings of His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari whose love for and appreciation of the people of Jigawa State is very well known to all of us.

I am glad to be here in Dutse, the capital of the great new world, Jigawa State, and we are here today to flag off the 28th Edition of the National MSME Clinic.

The MSME Clinic is a Federal Government initiative to work with State Governments to promote and support small and medium businesses. And it is appropriate and fitting that we should have this event here. Jigawa State continues to be the pace-setter in agriculture and rural development. It is as you all know, currently Nigeria’s largest producer of dates and hibiscus. The State is also the second-largest producer of gum arabic and sesame seed, as it is one of the top 3 rice-producing States in the country. But more importantly, it has proved itself to be one of the topmost attractive States in Nigeria for small and medium businesses.

As some of us will know, Jigawa was rated no 3 out of the 36 States and Abuja in the Ease of Doing Business Rankings conducted for the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council by the international consulting firm KPMG. And I suspect that the calculating Governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, might be planning to make this State a tourism destination as only recently, he inaugurated the tallest national flag in Nigeria at 5.3 feet high. It was erected on one of the farms of one of our respected chieftains of the APC, Hon Farouk, whose farm is also a major investment in the State.

It is on account of the proactive stance of the Governor that we also chose to perform the National launch on the deployment of 100,000 Solar Home Systems under the Solar Power Naija Programme here in Jigawa in the Jangefe Community of Roni local government in the emirate when I visited Jigawa State in April this year to celebrate another great son of this State.

So let me also take this opportunity to congratulate and commend his excellency Governor Badaru Abubakar and his hardworking team for these great strides in a few short years, their dedication to duty, and quality of service to the good people of this State is really worthy of celebration.

The obvious reason for MSME clinics and the support the Federal Government gives them is because MSMEs are indisputably the engine of growth in any economy. MSMEs also employ the largest numbers of people. So, the MSME Clinics were designed to bring regulatory agencies whose work affects the business experience of MSMEs to meet with the MSMEs in the same venue.

So, I am here today with NAFDAC, CAC, NEPC, SON, BOI, FIRS, all the regulatory agencies are here with me in Jigawa State today as part of this Clinic, because this is the opportunity that MSMEs have to bring their business problems to the attention of the regulatory agencies for the solution and this is outside of the intimidating offices of these agencies.

By bringing the regulatory authorities directly to the MSMEs, the MSMEs are saved the costs of moving between different agency offices which are not even always in the same town. MSME Clinics have also helped the regulatory agencies on their part to gain a better understanding of the difficulties that MSMEs face, and how to improve their services to help these businesses.

Usually, the MSME clinics are for two days, we realize that all the needs and queries of MSMEs cannot be met in a two-day period which is why we also encourage State Governments to establish MSME One-Stop-Shops. These are buildings provided by State Governments to house all our MSME partner agencies so that clients can access their services continuously and more readily and more cheaply.

Apart from the clinic, we also have what is known as Shared Facilities for MSMEs which is yet another innovation of the MSME Clinics. These facilities are provided to MSME clusters by the Federal Government and what it usually involves is the installation of specialized machinery that can be used or rented for short periods by business owners.

Such facilities spare MSMEs from the financial burden of having to purchase their own equipment while giving them access to top-flight equipment. For example, we have one that was built in Benue State, this is a yam storage facility and all farmers can use that same yam facility. In fact, this state-of-the-art equipment ensures that yams are stored and checked. One single farmer may not be able to afford those facilities so we give this facility. This is one of the things we do in other states and we hope to do here also in Jigawa State.

The President has reiterated several times that his main focus is on ensuring that small businesses are given the best possible support which explains why in response to the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and especially small businesses, the President established the Economic Sustainability Committee, which I have the privilege of chairing with a mandate to draw up an Economic Sustainability Plan to tackle the negative effect of any loss of health and economy.

The plan was to save jobs and create new opportunities and one of the interventions in the plan was what we described as the MSMEs Survival Fund. This Survival Fund was designed by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and investment and ably executed by the Hon. Minister of State Industry, Trade, and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum who is here with us today. The MSME Survival Fund consisted of a Payroll Support scheme for qualifying businesses, a Guaranteed Offtake Scheme, a Grant Scheme for artisans and transporters, and free business name registration for 250,000 applicants.

Under the Payroll Support component of the plan, so far, 459,307 employees have been successfully paid between N30,000 and N50,000 over a period of 3 months. The target beneficiaries of this scheme include private schools teachers, hotels, road transport workers, the creative industry, and various others, with a very painstaking and rigorous verification process.

There is also the track for artisans and transporters known as the Artisan and Transport Grant targeted at 330,000 artisans and transporters. To date, 265,425 artisans have been successfully paid under the scheme.

For the General MSME Grant which is also part of this scheme, out of the 100,000 targeted beneficiaries, so far, 44,000 beneficiaries have been paid across the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT.

Through the Payroll Support Programme, we were able to help businesses across various sectors to keep their employees and in the same vein, artisans and transporters got support to help them overcome the negative impact of the pandemic on their livelihoods. So, MSMEs in Jigawa State also benefitted fully from all tracks of the Survival Fund and we believe several of them across the tracks have total support that we were able to give small businesses and employees alike.

Now, today after going round with His Excellency, the Governor, seeing the different businesses exhibiting their different products and services, having an incredible number of excellent businesses covering a wide range of opportunities, from goods and services to those that are making furniture and all manners of businesses, I assured participants of removal of any bottleneck that they may be facing. I also encouraged them to bring any of the issues, especially the issue of approvals to the attention of the MSMEs Secretariat between today or tomorrow to get assistance and quick responses from some of the relevant agencies.

In conclusion, let me again commend my dear brother, Governor Badaru Abubakar and the entire Jigawa State Government for their massive efforts to grow the State economy and improve the lives of the citizens of this State. Clearly, these efforts are bearing fruit and MSMEs in Jigawa State will be the better for it. Please be assured that the Federal Government values your cooperation and we will continue to complement and support the work that you are doing here.

Thank you very much.

God bless you.