…partners with Ecobank to drive Financial Inclusion through women empowerment, microcredit loans and agency banking in Ekiti State
The community communications project of Governor Kayode Fayemi’s policies and achievements in Ekiti State which centres on the Five Pillars of his Administration, tagged “Se’ti gbo (have you heard?)”, has embarked on a strategic public sensitisation programme across the 16 Local Government Areas of the State with support from Ecobank.
The programme which began in Ado-Ekiti hosted the informal sector of the state, a body comprising artisans and traders and vocational associations.
While welcoming attendees to the meeting which held according to COVID19 protocols, the Special Adviser, Communications and Strategy (SACS), Mrs Olusola Salako Ajulo explained that the concept of grassroots communications was designed and adopted following the need to engage the people of Ekiti State on the policies, activities and achievements of Dr Fayemi in his second coming as governor of the State.
She also noted that the government, in the last 18 months, has embarked on transformational policies and projects that need to be duly communicated to the people so they can participate and benefit from the opportunities such policies and projects provide, saying that it is a duty critical to the promotion of good governance.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Affairs, Chief Niyi Ojo highlighted the achievements of Dr. Fayemi’s administration, cutting across Governance, Agriculture and Rural Development, Social Investment, Knowledge-Economy, Infrastructure and Industrial Development many of which the attendees attested to in their communities.
Chief Ojo extolled the roles being played by the Informal Sector in the restoration agenda of Governor Fayemi’s administration and assured them of the Governor’s commitment to improving the Ease of Doing Business in Ekiti State.
Speaking on behalf of the Ecobank team, Mrs Tolulope Adedapo explained various empowerment opportunities the bank was ready to provide under the financial inclusion partnership with the State government’s community communications platform, noting the Ecobank Entrepreneurship Initiative (EFEI), a pilot project in the Southwest region set to empower thousands of Ekiti women who are into various forms of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
She noted that beneficiaries will receive loans from 50,000 Naira (with interest rates starting at five per cent interest rate) payable within six months. However, qualifying beneficiaries will have to undergo financial management training and will be issued certificates of participation which qualifies them to access the loan.
Another representative of the bank, Mr Yinka Onireti discussed on Agency Banking, a product that embraces digital evolution and promotes financial inclusion as directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to empower individuals to perform banking operations for their communities in the comfort of their shops, offices.
“Agency Banking has the potential to create thousands of jobs which is very healthy for the economy of the Ekiti State. It is also a source of financial empowerment for intending entrepreneurs and an additional source of income for existing SMEs.
“We at Ecobank are glad that the Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has embraced these strategies to empower the youths and further equip the business community in the State,” he said.
Speaking on the requirements to become an Agent, Mr Onireti noted that intending applicants must own a shop or office space, must be a new or existing customer with the bank, must provide valid means of identification, and own an Android phone.
Successful applicants will be commissioned to perform services such as; Account opening, deposit and withdrawal of cash, purchase of airtime and data, payment of utility bills, etc.
Shedding more light on the government’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Ekiti State, the Senior Special Assistant on Public Health, Dr. Opeyemi Ogunsakin explained that the recent rise in community spreading of the virus in the state is due to the influx of persons from neighbouring states during the lockdown, saying that the commissioning of the molecular laboratory by Governor Fayemi has helped unravelled many hidden cases in the State.
He, however, appealed to the leadership of the informal sector to assist in educating members and the community at large on the need to adhere to safety measures against the spread of the virus which includes; the use of nose masks, frequent hand washing (with soap and running water), hand sanitising, early reporting of symptoms and keeping to social distancing.
On the issue of taxation, the Chairman of Ekiti State Internal Revenue Service (EKIRS), Mr Olumuyiwa Ogunmilade, who was represented by an official of the organisation, Mr Femi Oloye enlightened the gathering on the government’s effort to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the good people of Ekiti State by introducing tax relief and incentives for taxpayers and businesses.
The team explained tax relief policies to enable the sector to regain momentum after the disruption in commercial activities occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The minimum tax payable under the Presumptive Tax Regime (Market Men & Women, Artisans, etc.) in the State has been reduced by 50 per cent for the year 2020 only,” he said.
The full implementation of Ekiti State Land Use Charge Law rates based on property valuation which commenced July 1, 2020, is suspended due to the perceived global economic effects of COVID-19 on the populace. Full amnesty is hereby granted to all Land Owners with respect to the arrears of Land Use Charge from the year 2017 to 2019.
“The EKIRS has also introduced a waiver on Penalty and Interest on Land Use Charge for the year 2020. This waiver only applies to those who make a payment on or before November 30, 2020.
The participants expressed their gladness on the engagement and showed interest in the access to financial support and empowerment through the Ecobank financial inclusion products. They thanked the Governor for attracting such projects that make loans available for MSMEs at comfortable terms to Ekiti State.
Also in attendance was the Special Assistant to the Governor on the Informal Sector, Mr Aladeloye Oroya and the Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Mrs Mary Oso Omotosho. Over eighty (80) trade and vocational associations were represented at the engagement.
S’e ti gbo is a grassroots community enlightenment platform coordinated by the Office of the Special Adviser on Communications and Strategy (SACS), headed by Mrs Olusola Salako Ajulo, and is supported by Ecobank.