Beneficiaries of Federal Government’s Micro Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) Survival Fund from the Transportation and Education sectors on Monday lauded President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over the scheme.
The beneficiaries conveyed their appreciation over the success of the scheme as the Survival Fund entered its seventh month.
The Steering Committee of Survival Fund led by Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum and representatives of beneficiaries in the transportation and education sectors held a virtual meeting with Osinbajo.
The beneficiaries expressed excitement over the success of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) which they described as an unprecedented, transparent, fair, and impactful programme.
Responding during two different feedback-focused virtual interactive sessions, Osinbajo said that the president wanted to do more, and would be encouraged by the success stories of the beneficiaries and the impact created.
“What the president wanted was to pay every private sector employee in the education sector; but the cost was humongous so, we had to rationalise
“It is good that most people have received the fund, by the time I report back to the President, it will encourage him.
“The president has asked regularly about the progress of the MSMEs Survival Fund; he is particularly concerned about what we can do for transport workers. So you can be sure that we’re going to be focused on this issue.
“It was in recognition of the importance of road transportation to the economy that the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), set aside specific funds, the MSMEs Survival Fund, with a special focus and emphasis on road transportation workers.
“We want to make sure that the economy survives, what we are doing is not a favour to the transport industry. We think it is important that this industry survives in the interest of our nation and our economy and the interest of the people of this country.”
On the payroll support group, the vice president said that one of the important things in drafting the ESP, was that certain critical sectors were factored in.
He said such sectors required intervention in the wake of the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic of which schools were vital.
“We designed the ESP to focus on certain critical sectors, and the education sector, particularly private schools, was one of them because, during the lockdown, private schools were in a much difficult place.
“So, we felt that we should also support private schools through the MSME Survival Fund platform,” he said.
The President of the Road Transport Employers Association (RTEAN), Alhaji Musa Muhammed, said the implementation of the Survival Fund was unprecedented in the history of the country.
He said that the beneficiaries remained indebted to the government for the show of concern during the COVID-19 pandemic period.
Muhammed, however, urged authorities to do more for the sector by creating a Transportation Bank to cater to the growing needs of road transport operators in the country.
The Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Mr Tony Asogwa, appreciated the effort of the vice president and the coordinating committee for a smooth implementation of the scheme.
He said that the scheme was not based on ethnicity as beneficiaries were spread across persons from the different ethno-religious backgrounds.
In the same vein, Alhaji Yususf Usman of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), said over 60 per cent of members of the group had received payments under the scheme and appealed to the Federal Government to also look into the plight of the owners having catered for the workers.
On her part, Mrs Precious Ukpe, representative of Bookyard International School, PortHarcourt, said the intervention from the Federal Government had been very impactful, noting that it enabled many schools to resume normal activities.
Another beneficiary of the Payroll Support, the Proprietor, Adebabs Inland Montessori School, Mr Babatunde Lateef, thanked the Federal Government for the support for private schools.
Earlier in her remark, Katagum said that since the enumeration of the first set of beneficiaries on Jan. 17 , a total of 155,920 beneficiaries in the transport track had so far been approved for payment while 9,109 pending cases are being processed for payment.
The minister said that the balance to be enumerated was about 19,689 adding that only 22 per cent of female beneficiaries in the track were reached because of the peculiar nature of the transportation business.
Katagum said that the education sector alone had about 850,000 applications during the one week the survival portal was reopened, compared to about half of the number when the portal was first opened for six weeks.
She said that so far, 43 per cent of the Survival Fund beneficiaries were females.
“So far, over 146, 811 transport sector beneficiaries have been paid under the Transport Track 30,000 one-off grant; at least 307,173 Payroll Support beneficiaries have been paid, and 114,557 Artisans Track beneficiaries have received payments under the scheme
“Preparations are ongoing to pay the balance of beneficiaries under the various tracks while prospective beneficiaries of the General Grant and Guaranteed Off-take Scheme are being enumerated for payment,” she said.
Speakers representing stakeholders from the six geo-political zones in the education sector included, Mr Babatunde Lateef from Adebabs Inland Montessori School, Lagos, South West, Mrs Precious Ukpe from Bookyard International School, Rivers State, South South and Mrs Esther Egwu from United Christian Academy Ltd, Abia State, South East.
Mrs Maryam Bukar from Petrol Talent Global Model School, Borno State represented the North East, Mr Edward Tetteh from De Grate Jewels International Academy, Abuja represented North Central while Nuhu Nuhu from Excellent Science College, Kano, represented the North West.
Associations and unions from the Transport sector represented at the meeting included NURTW, NARTO, RTEAN, Amalgamated Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners, Repairs and Riders Association of Nigeria, God is Good Motors (GiGM) among others.