By Ahmed Rahma
The Ogun State Governor, Mr Dapo Abiodun, has appealed to the management of Ecobank Nigeria Limited to develop a credit facility that will make it possible for residents of the Gateway State to get funds to grow their businesses.
Mr Abiodun made this plea when he welcomed the bank led by its Managing Director, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, to his office in Abeokuta, the state capital, recently.
The Governor said this interest-free or single-digit interest loans would be tailored to meet the needs of vulnerable people in the state, who engage in petty trading and others.
“We are looking to support our vulnerable groups in the society, our women who are basically the strength of the society, they are very hard-working, and all they need is little capital.
“We aim to provide loans for them at single digit or zero interest rate and we know that they will pay back. They are religious about paying back. Let’s see how we can work with Ecobank to design a model that will allow us to support them,” Mr Abiodun informed Mr Akinwuntan.
He also called on Ecobank and other lenders to join hands with the state government to fix the Lagos/Agbara and Ota/Abeokuta federal roads, disclosing that his administration was on the verge of getting the approval of the federal government to rehabilitate the roads through the PPP model.
“Let’s see what you can do for us in terms affordable housing through mortgage schemes, advertising on our job portal, Infrastructure.
“I am sure you are aware of the Agbara corridor which is the biggest industrial hub in this country; the road leading from Lagos to Agbara is a nightmare; that road is a federal road, but we have decided to take on it as a State.
“We have also decided to take it over and construct it under a PPP arrangement.
“We hope Ecobank will perhaps be interested in this PPP model in partnership with other banks. The same goes for the Ota-Abeokuta road,” the Governor said.
In his remarks, the Ecobank chief commended the Governor for providing a friendly environment to business owners in the state, promising to partner with the state government to boost its economy.
Mr Akinwuntan assured that the bank will help attract investments to the state to finance some long-term projects and support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs), agriculture, health and other strategic sectors of the state’s economy.
“For us as a bank, we appreciate what your government is doing. When we look at the specific components of your vision and strategy as encapsulated in ISEYA, which represents Infrastructure, Social welfare and health, Education, Youth empowerment and Agriculture, we decided to come over to explore areas of partnership and collaboration.
“Your government has not left the vision as an acronym but the execution is a testimony to the greatness of this state. We believe the outcome of this collaboration will benefit not just indigenes of Ogun state alone, but our dear country Nigeria and the Africa continent,” Mr Akinwuntan said.
“I want to also commend your government in terms of the peaceful environment of doing business. Ogun state is one of the leading lights in ease of doing business and a place to invest in.
“I will like to reiterate that we stand ready to support you in attracting investments to fund the long-term infrastructure projects that you have rightly embarked on.
“We understand that such projects will require long-term financing, the history and rating of Ogun State places it in a unique position to leverage on the capital market for long term instruments like bonds. We stand ready to collaborate and support you on this journey,” he said further.
During the visit, Ecobank donated rural health tricycle ambulances to the state to assist in primary healthcare delivery.
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