All States Must Benefit from FG’s Palliatives, Minister Assures

Mariam Yelwaji Katagum

By James Emejo

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum has assured that more Nigerians would benefit from the federal government palliatives.

This is just as she directed focal persons in all states of the federation to intensify sensitisation efforts for Nigerians to apply for the federal government’s palliative recently unveiled to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country.

She emphasised that all states need to be equally represented in the scheme.

The minister gave the charge following reports that low internet connectivity in some states and local governments had limited the ability of individuals to register for the federal government’s Survival Fund, launched to provide palliatives to ameliorate the impact of the pandemic.

Speaking while providing update on the scheme, she also said there had been reports of some attempted cyber-attacks on the application website by fraudsters in recent times.

Katagum, however assured members of the public that, “the application system is secure with multiple levels of encryption and any information loaded on the official application page is safe from cyber-attacks of any kind.”

She also said that there were feedback that state governments and trade associations are putting in place innovative strategies to deal with the situation.

The federal government had earlier in the month, flagged-off the National MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme (GOS), both targeted towards assisting Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interventions which will gulp a total of N75 billion are core part of the N2.3 trillion Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) is currently being implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to help cushion the impact of the pandemic with a view to boosting the economy by saving existing jobs and creating new job opportunities.

The minister said as at the last count, total successful registrations from the scheme stood at 174,574 with Kano State accounting for 19,895 applications, Kaduna 13,575, Lagos 13,640, Katsina 8,383 and FCT 8,085.

According to her, some unscrupulous individuals had also tried to take undue advantage of the programme to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.

She said: “We would however like to draw the attention of the public to attempts by scammers and other undesirable elements to swindle innocent Nigerians with promises of assured disbursements for a fee.

“The Survival Fund will not at any time or for any reason request payment or facilitation fees to access the Grants. The public is encouraged to report any such nefarious activities to the nearest security agents and follow up with a report to the PDO via the mediums provided on the website.

She further thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for the “critical intervention at this time of economic hardship coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic.”