Olawale Ajimotokan reports that a widow, who through three decades of diligence has produced a first class graduate in Petroleum Engineering by frying bean cakes, popularly known as Akara in Nyanyan, Abuja, is the quintessential face of the Federal Goverment Tradermoni Scheme
She brandished a hearty and a broad laughter over a joke about her latest status, reflected by her image, which lit a huge advertisement billboard, standing over the Area 11 Junction, Garki, Abuja to promote the Tradermoni, a Federal Government scheme to disburse interest free loan to indigent small business owners.
The advert spread shows a woman struggling to meet the needs of her family by frying bean cake popularly known as Akara, plantain and yam, foods on the go popular across Nigeria.
Yet for having her face spread across the billboard and for being in the spotlight, Mrs Regina Madisife, who admitted she had not been to Abuja to sight the giant billboard, only got N10,000 as Tradermoni loan to grow her small business. But in her humble estimation, she equated what she received to like being paid N1 million.
“My children have been to Abuja and have seen the poster. They are very proud of me. I am also very happy that the federal government remembered me by granting me this loan in support of my business,” Madisife, who is an indigene of Umuleri, Anambra State declared.
She was one of the 23 persons recently invited by the Ministry of Information when the Testimonies of Change was launched at the State House, Abuja to speak on how the federal government’s social intervention programmes had impacted them and their communities.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had unveiled the Testimonies of Change as an innovative programme to showcase the achievements of the Buhari Administration from the perspective of Nigerians themselves.
Madisife, who gave a testimonial, is one of the ambassadors of Tradermoni, launched last year. The scheme has assisted 1.2 million petty traders and artisans in the country, with over N12 billion already disbursed to the beneficiaries, each receiving grants ranging from N10,000 to N100,000.
Madisife is a widow and the family breadwinner. Since the death of her husband in 2005, she has borne the burden of giving her children quality education from proceeds eked from her Akara frying trade at Nyanyan market, Abuja.
It is interesting to note that three of her five children are university products. One of them includes Collins, who graduated with a First Class degree in Petroleum Engineering at the Centre of Excellence, University of Benin.
For over 30 years, the 63-year grandmother has been selling Akara, a delicacy made from bean and which can be eaten either as a breakfast or as a snack at any time of the day.
“I have been in this corner since 1988 making Akara. Three of us started the trade, but I am the only person that is remaining because the other women are no more. In those days, not too many people were living in Nyanyan, unlike now that many people from different parts of the country have relocated to this area,” she recalled.
Madisife said she had persevered in fending for her family, working from daybreak till evening, in spite of the uncertainty many small scale businesses in the country are facing.
“I have overcome the odds since I lost my husband” she stressed. “People patronise me because of the taste of my Akara. The secret behind my food is that I use lots of onions, pepper and the best white beans. Akara made from white beans tastes better”.
She confessed she first heard about the Tradermoni scheme, when visiting Bank of Industry officers, randomly selected her and two other traders in the market for the loan. Madisife also revealed that she was given the loans without any collateral after her details were captured.
She lauded the federal government for remembering and targeting other unskilled people like her with the social intervention loan to enable her cater for her family. She added that the little amount she received meant a whole world to her.
“The whole story about the Tradermoni scheme is true because I got it. Although it is only N10,000, but for me, it is like getting N1 million. I used the little I got to buy yam, palm oil, beans and pepper. It is a lot of money and it has helped me substantially,” she said.
She pleaded with government to provide job for her three graduate children so that they can cater for her when she retires from her petty profession, hopefully by next year. Apart from Collins, her two other children read Economics and International Relations.
“I am really grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari, but I want my children to be gainfully employed so that they can take care of me. That is my appeal to government. I hope it will happen soon as we have been praying over it” Madisife said.
While providing further insights, Collins, who was born in Nyanyan about the year his mother started the Akara frying business, said the children felt excited about the spotlight their mother has enjoyed of late given her sacrifice to educate them since their father’s death.
Collins, who also holds a Master’s degree with distinction in the same field from the University of Benin, lauded the government programme, describing it as way of standing to the social requirements of the masses.
For a regular Nigerian family struggling to make ends meet, he said they all relish the attention their mother has attracted through the Tradermoni and hope it will rub off positively on the family.
“To be honest, we are happy to be in the spotlight. Our mother struggled to solely raise us since the death of our dad. She has really put in so much efforts for the family. Before our dad died, she used to come to the market in the morning and rest in the afternoon, but since he died, she has been toiling from morning till night in the market to meet the family obligations. We are trusting in God that this spotlight is not just momentary or ephemeral, but that it will actually last longer,” he said.