The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) is set to extend the single-digit interest loans to 1,500 ex-agitators trained under the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) in the Niger Delta region.
According to a statement, Mr Milland Dikio, the Interim Administrator of PAP said the initiative is part of the efforts to raise the economic prospects of people of the region by attracting financial support for small and medium scale enterprises.
He urged the beneficiaries to judiciously use the NIRSAL loans to become successful entrepreneurs, warning them against misuse of the facility, adding that diverting the facility would create more hardship for them and the region.
NIRSAL is a Central Bank of Nigeria backed programme targeted for entrepreneurs in the agricultural value chain at a concessionary interest rate of nine per cent.
The training, which took place at designated centres in Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States, was in continuation of a programme for NIRSAL loans which PAP commenced in November 2021.
Represented by the Head of Reintegration, Mr Alfred Kemepado, Mr Dikio said that the training would help the beneficiaries of the loan to grow their businesses and mitigate risks, saying that the focus was to facilitate and enhance single-digit interest loans for entrepreneurs in the region.
At the Yenagoa and Port Harcourt Centers, Mr Dikio who spoke through his Special Adviser on Projects, Mr Godwin Ekpo asked the beneficiaries to form cooperatives and focus on agriculture.
“The facilitators were very engaging and it just gives us hope and we are hopeful that once we are done with this set and we go into the next batches, the subsequent things we will do with these people will yield results.
“We have asked them to form themselves into cooperatives, look at the Agriculture value chain, production, processing, packaging and logistics end to see where they fit in.
“A lot of them have shown interest and I am hoping that maybe by tomorrow they will form themselves into different clusters in the value chain of several products.
“We are saying to everybody that cares to hear is that the Niger Delta is ready for development. Come back to the Niger Delta, come back and invest here. We are ready to receive you and we are ready to support you.” Mr Dikio said.
In Warri, through a senior Reintegration Officer in PAP, Mr Benjamin Appah, he explained how the beneficiaries were drawn across the region for the various centres.
“The names were compiled across impacted communities, PAP success stories, PAP cooperatives and the documented bonafide beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme.
“We received the names through their camp leaders, their cooperatives and the post-training units.
“We also gathered from the success stories of people who have been previously empowered by the amnesty office and are doing well in their businesses.
“So the office of the Interim Administrator thought it wise to say that since they are doing well in their businesses, why don’t we help them expand.
“This loan is a scheme organized by the Federal government of Nigeria.
However, PAP decided to bridge that gap and facilitate training by engaging a consultant who will train beneficiaries and show them the prerequisite of accessing the loan and also guide them through getting a credible business plan.
“In a nutshell, the current PAP administration is trying to facilitate the access for the beneficiaries to benefit from the Federal Government’s single-digit collateral-free loan programme.
“All the beneficiaries have to do is come down to their training centres, receive their training, and the office is responsible for all the other expenses that qualify them,” Mr Appah said.
Certificates of participation were issued to the beneficiaries across all centres at the end of the five-day workshop.
The certificate qualified the beneficiaries for other Central Bank of Nigeria, accredited loans, grants and credit facilities.