Kwara State Governor, Mr. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, yesterday flagged off the disbursement of non-interest loans to another round of 30,000 beneficiaries of the social investment programme, which brought the tally to 60,000 since the scheme kicked off last year.

AbdulRazaq said that “between 2020 and now, we have disbursed soft loans to 30,000 beneficiaries.

“Today’s event marks the commencement of a fresh disbursement of the loans to another set of 30,000 beneficiaries across Kwara State.”

He stated this in Ilorin at the grand activation of Owo Isowo non-interest loans for beneficiaries from Kwara Central, which was held at Ilorin Township Stadium, Taiwo Area, Ilorin.

The governor said: “This initiative attests to the administration’s policy of gender inclusion, women empowerment, and poverty alleviation. Beneficiaries of Owo Isowo and Owo Arugbo have been 90 per cent women.”

He explained that the scheme, which came in four categories, was designed to fight extreme poverty and stimulate small businesses by providing beneficiaries with interest-free loans.

AbdulRazaq said the Owo Arugbo component, which has some 10,000 beneficiaries across the state, would seek to support the elderly and the weak in a way that neither threatens their lives nor degrades their human dignity as senior citizens.

“The programme seeks to lift people from extreme poverty. KWASSIP comes in four components, including Owo Isowo and Owo Arugbo. Owo Arugbo supports our vulnerable elders in a dignified way.

“We have made sure that these elders do not have to lose their lives or human dignity before accessing this support from the government. That is one of those things that stand us apart from the dark era that Kwara has exited.

“A signature programme of KWASSIP is the Trader Moni, popularly known as ‘Owo Isowo.’ It gives non-interest loans to beneficiaries to invest in petty business while also improving their capacity to create wealth for themselves.

“We borrowed this fine initiative from Mr. President. This has helped poor families to put food on their table.”

AbdulRazaq implored the beneficiaries of ‘Owo Isowo’ to make judicious use of the support and ensure they pay back the money, adding that this would pave way for incremental loans for those who had paid back to the tune of N50,000.

He assured the people that the administration will continue to support the downtrodden, poor and vulnerable with opportunities, financial support and capacity building programmes.

Acting General Manager Kwara State Social Investment Programme, Mr. Mohammed Brimah, said that the yesterday’s disbursements to 13,000 beneficiaries were the highest daily disbursement since the programme started.

Brimah said: “We are here today to witness a historic event. I call it historic because firstly it has never happened in the history of Kwara State.

“Since the inception of the Kwara State Social Investment Programmes, we have disbursed loans to a total of about 30,000 beneficiaries but the most numbers of beneficiaries we have done in a day is about a thousand beneficiaries.

“The closest to this type of activation anywhere else in Nigeria was the federal government’s TraderMoni Activation of about 5,000 petty traders in Kaduna. Therefore, this is also the first time this magnitude of activation will be attempted anywhere in Nigeria till date.”

He added that the inclusion of BVN registration and validation for beneficiaries of Kwara State’s “Owo Isowo” programme were not in the initial national social investment programme design of tradermoni.

“This (invention by the Kwara State Government) is now being adopted by the federal government,” Brimah said.

He explained that the disbursement under KWASSIP are for known beneficiaries captured and screened by the scheme unlike the controversial N2bn SME loan secured by the immediate past administration without any form of accountability or transparency.

The Iyaloja-General and Babaloja-General of Kwara State, Ms. Sidikat Akaje and Mr. AbdulRahman Saad, commended AbdulRazaq for his various interventions at making life meaningful to every segment of the society.

He said: “We are very happy with changes that His Excellency has brought to the lives of marketers in Kwara State,”