Senate Panel Asks BoI To Account For $300m Local Content Fund 

Senate Panel Asks BoI To Account For $300m Local Content Fund 

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Content, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, has asked the management of the Bank of Industry (BoI) to explain how it utilised the $300 million Access Fund meant to promote local content, especially in the oil and gas sector.

Akpoti-Uduaghan, gave the directive during a meeting of her panel with officials of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and the BoI.

The engagement, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate Panel Chairman, Arogbonlo Israel, on Wednesday, was to familiarise the Senate panel with the workings of their agencies and to strengthen capacity building and collaboration.

The statement explained that the meeting was aimed at enhancing synergy between government agencies and maximise impact on Nigerian beneficiaries.

Part of the statement read, “Senator Akpoti-Uduaghan emphasised the importance of joint efforts in promoting local content, particularly in the oil and gas sector, where $300 million is dedicated to Nigerian access through the BoI.

“During the meeting, the Senator sought updates on the agencies’ activities, training programmes, and performance reports.

“She also requested a breakdown of the fund’s utilisation and the number of Nigerians who have benefited from it.

“Senator Akpoti-Uduaghan noted the strong relationship between local content and the BoI and highlighted that the committee had previously written to the agency to inquire about the performance of the fund and the amount available to be accessed by Nigerians.

“The representatives of the BoI mentioned that the agency is run by Nigerian funds from the private sector but managed by the Nigerian government, with an annual project of $617.7 million.

“They outlined their ability to work with the lawmaker by inviting her to speak with participants about the activities and programmes of the BoI.

“They also clarified that the BoI does not receive any amount from the federal budget and highlighted their success in attracting banks from outside the country, bringing in five billion dollars in the last five years.

“They disclosed that their programmes include: YES-P, GEEP and iDICE. The Youth Entrepreneurship Support Programme (YES-P), is BOI’s effort at addressing the worrisome phenomenon of youth unemployment in Nigeria by building the capacity of the youths and funding their business ideas.

“The YES programme is aimed at equipping young people with the requisite skills and knowledge to be self-employed by starting and managing their businesses.

“On the other hand, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) Fund was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Social Investment Unit in the Office of the Vice President (OVP).

“It is meant to provide financial assistance to market women, artisans, women cooperative societies, enterprising youths, small scale farmers, agro-allied processors, and other MSME categories for small and medium businesses in Nigeria.

“While iDICE is aimed at building capacity and upskilling Nigerian youth (from ages 15-35), in technology and creativity to increase their employability, foster innovation, and support the emergence of more entrepreneurs.

” iDICE is co-funded by the African Development Bank (AFDB), Agence française de développement (AFD), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and other private investors.”

The BoI team disclosed that they visit NYSC camps where they educate the corp members about GEEP programme and provide capacity building for them. They promised to invite the Senator during the YES-P programme.

On the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES), Senator Akpoti-Uduaghan expressed dissatisfaction with the N10,000 to N15,000 being given to students who undertake the scheme over a period of 4 to six months.

She equally faulted the rejection attitude of organisations towards the students and called for more synergy between the organisations and ITF to ensure students are accepted whenever they approach any organisation for their SIWES.

Meanwhile, Akpoti-Uduaghan,  has partnered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to register 2,500 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) among her constituents.

A statement by her media office explained that the gesture was in a bid to boost economic growth and development in her constituency.

The statement explained that the registration would be done at the rate of N11,000 each.

It added that Akpoti-Uduaghan has committed to covering the total cost of N27,500,000 for the registration of all 2,500 SMEs.

The statement added that the partnership was reached on Wednesday when the CAC officials led by the Head, CAC FCT Zonal Office, Mr Bello Muftau Esq met with the lawmaker at her office in the National Assembly, Abuja.

The CAC team leader, Mr. Bello Muftau, lauded the partnership as a significant step towards promoting the ease of doing business in Nigeria, in line with the Commission’s mandate under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.

Sunday Aborisade

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