Delta Governor, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, on Thursday, announced that the state government would give financial assistance to 2,500 artisans in 2022 to stimulate the growth of small and medium enterprises in the state.
Okowa announced this while speaking at Artisans Day celebration held at the Cenotaph, Asaba.
He said that the financial assistance would be given to the beneficiaries as grant to enable them to develop their businesses, adding that the 2,500 persons would be carefully selected across artisans in the state and from different enterprises.
According to him, there will be budgetary provision for the financial support to the artisans in the 2022 budget, and the money for the assistance to the 2,500 artisans will be released between March and April next year.
The governor, who was given an “Award for Good Governance’’ by Artisans Association of Nigeria, Delta Chapter, at the event, also disclosed that by the grace of God, the state government would in 2023 increase the number of artisans that would benefit from the financial support.
“I must thank God for this day. I am very impressed with the way you people organised yourselves.
“I appreciate the award you have given to me but the greatest gift that you have given to me as the Governor of Delta State is the manner you people have organised yourselves into such a movement, a good movement across the entire Delta state.
“I am truly very blessed by that, because the economy of any nation cannot grow without the artisans.
“The artisans are the growth pole that we have in this country. Many sectors of this nation, including the Federal Government, need to realise the need to mobilise the artisans so that we can grow our people into greater businesses.
“I must thank Chief Ifeanyi Abanum and his executive members for being able to pull the resources that we have at our various local government areas together. There is strength in coming together. I believe that by associating with ourselves, we can grow together and find ways of improving each other’s lives and business.
“So, you can form yourselves into various cooperative groups even at your local government levels, villages and wards so that you can truly reap the benefits of this association,’’ he said.
Okowa encouraged the artisans to be dedicated to their businesses and ensure that they succeeded, saying “I can see from going through the various stands that you people are out for serious business. Now I know that Delta State would soon explode for good in future.
“Many economically grown countries today started with various small businesses in their homes and later grew very big because they believed in themselves.
“I want to urge you that you must stay focused on what you are able to do because God will be with you individually and collectively.
“Let us look for the best ways to grow and support each other as we associate with each other so that when a member of your group is having challenge, you can collectively help him or her out.”
He urged the artisans to register as voters in the ongoing voter registration by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) if they had not done so, adding that it was important for them to have their Permanent Voter’s Card to enable them exercise their civic responsibility of voting during elections.
“Go and register with INEC, because you cannot be talking about what Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is doing today if you people did not support me to be governor.
“If another person was the governor, maybe, he may not have had interest in artisans. So, register with INEC so that you would be able to choose the next governor who will recognise you,” he added.
On the request for a plot of land to build the association’s secretariat, the governor directed the Commissioner for Lands and Surveys to look for land that would be allocated to the association for that purpose.
In his remarks earlier, Minority Leader of House of Representatives and member, representing Aniocha/Oshimili constituency, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, had stated that Governor Okowa was a rare gift to Delta State and the country.
Elumelu, who was the Chairman of the event, said that Okowa had raised the bar of governance in Nigeria, and pointed out that the governor had done a lot in infrastructure and human capital development.
“In the last six years, Governor Okowa has achieved unprecedented milestones in all areas of development. I am thankful to the governor for re-tooling skills acquisition programmes in the state,” he said.
Executive Secretary, Delta State Technical and Vocational Board (TVEB), Mr Smart Ikem, who addressed the audience on the importance of artisans in the development of the society, lauded the governor for his patriotic commitment in promoting entrepreneurial development in the state.
On his part, Chairman of Artisans Association in the state, Chief Ifeanyi Abanum, said that Okowa had done exceptionally well in transforming the state, adding that the governor remained the only governor that had the interest of artisans in the state at heart.
“Under your watch, the artisans’ body was recognised and inaugurated. You did not only give us job as a body, you appointed some of us into your administration,” Abanum said, and appealed for a parcel of land to build the association’s secretariat and more workshop, among others.