By Salawudeen Olawale
The Buhari Youth Organisation (BYO) on Monday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intensify efforts to fully implement and sustain the Social Investment Programme (SIP) on Enterprise Promotion, to reduce unemployment and poverty.
Mr Waheed Odunuga, BYO Coordinator, Lagos State, made the appeal in an interview with journalists in Lagos.
SIP, a special intervention programme of the Federal Government, has four parts, including “Homegrown school feeding Programme” and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
According to him, the government needs to ensure disbursement of funds to expectant beneficiaries and further simplify loan collection and refund.
“This is the very first time people are benefiting from such project without the need of any politician to access loan. All the people need is a formidable registered association.
“The problem is the number of beneficiaries; the targeted beneficiaries is said to be one million people, but as at now, I don’t think the government has done enough.
“To me, the government needs to do more because right now, a lot of applicants are yet to access the loan. It will help to give hope to the hopeless in this recession period.”
Odunuga said that one of BYO’s roles, as an organisation, was to promote government policies, adding that the group had promoted the policy through its chapters across states and local governments.
According to him, efforts should be redoubled to ensure that the project does not fail, as in the last four weeks, money has not been disbursed to expected beneficiaries.
“We told them that within a month, they would get the loan; while some got it within two weeks, many could not get even after a month.
“Some people got the money credited into their accounts, but withdrawing the money becomes difficult, which makes them spend weeks in the banks before getting the money due to monopoly.
“Meanwhile, the government gave two weeks grace to start refund but lots of people, even after two weeks, have not accessed the money, and their accounts would be debited for money not yet collected.
“I think the government needs to do more on turn-around time of banking by removing the monopoly of Sterling Bank and engaging other banks in the programme.”
Odunuga urged the government to strengthen processes of getting the loan back from the beneficiaries, to foster sustenance of the programme, adding that many organisations had not benefited.
Mr Adekunle Aderibigbe, the Secretary of BYO, said: “There is a need to review and simplify the structure and the system of this programme. “We need to bring more people into the net. In this recession, having access to this fund will go a long way to help the people.”
Aderibigbe disclosed that BYO registered a lot of business-oriented members through its Greenland Multipurpose Cooperative Society to benefit from the scheme under GEEP.
According to him, Mr Olufemi Orioke, the Managing Director of D2RS Finance and Investment Ltd, a major aggregator in implementation of GEEP, has been urging the applicants to be patient with government. In GEEP, the government provides no-interest loan, which range from N10,000 to N100,000 for applicants, and refund is spread over 24 weeks.
Members of accredited market associations, cooperative or trade groups, who have BVN and whose business location can be verified, can apply for the GEEP loan.