From Right: Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, his Deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (Rtd), Speaker, BYHA, Rt. Hon. Benson Kombowei, Wife of the Governor, Mrs. Rachael Dickson, and the Commissioner of Women Affairs, Mrs. Sarafina Otazi, during the presentation of a cheque of 500M by the State Government, as part of the Bayelsa State Women Empowerment Programme, at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa.
Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson on Friday disbursed N500m out of the N1bn earmarked for women empowerment to various cooperative groups in the 32 Rural Development Areas of the State.
Speaking at the flag-off of the women empowerment programme at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Yenagoa, Hon. Dickson charged the various organs of government in charge of the disbursement to be transparent by ensuring that the funds get to the beneficiaries before the end of the year.
Flanked by his wife, Dr. Rachael Dickson and other top government functionaries at the occasion, the governor said the gesture would open a vista of opportunities for the beneficiaries, and therefore urged them to make judicious use of the disbursed funds.
The rationale behind the scheme, according to the Commissioner was to enable Bayelsans take control of the local economy, disclosing that his administration would soon float a similar programme which is aimed at empowering the teeming youth in the state.
His words, “One of the policies of my administration is to free you from any kind of slave mentality. We are determined to free you from being slaves to anybody. Take control and be masters and mistresses of your lives and destinies by making judicious use of the opportunity provided by the government.
“Don’t spend this money to buy wrapper and things for Christmas but use it to do something meaningful that will empower you and your family so that you will not depend on anybody.
The whole fund will be released before the end of December, 2013, and if it went well, we will vote another N1bn for next year. We will not stop until the average serious Bayelsa woman is liberated economically.”
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development , Mrs Sarafina Otazi had observed that the empowerment programme would spark a multiplier effect not only in the families of the beneficiaries but also on the entire Bayelsa economy.
She implored the beneficiaries to justify government’s confidence in women by keeping faith with the terms and conditions of the scheme, especially in the area of repayment.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director General of the Bayelsa State Micro-Finance and Enterprise Development Agency, Mr. Ifiemi Ikpaikpai described the programme as a revolving soft loan scheme with an 18 month repayment period.
The presentation of cheque to the beneficiaries, according to Mr Ikpaikpai, would be done during the Governor’s thank you tour to the eight local government areas of the state next week.
To ensure success of the programme, he said government has concluded plans to partner with the Central Bank of Nigeria to give entrepreneurship training to the beneficiaries to build the capacity of the beneficiaries in small business management.
Dignitaries present at the occasion include, the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, (rtd), the Nollywood Actress, Eucharia Anunobi and host of others.
From L – R: Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Rear Admiral John Jonah (Rtd), Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, his amiable wife,Mrs Rachael Dickson and the Commissioner of Women Affairs, Mrs. Sarafina Otazi, during the Flag-off of the Bayelsa State Women Empowerment Programme, at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa.