Bello promises to create over 500,000 new businesses in Kogi
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has promised to create over 500,000 new businesses in the state before the expiration of his tenure in 2024.
Bello made the promise, yesterday, at the maiden edition of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day with the theme ‘MSME Growth: A Strategic Tool for Economic Development, held in Lokoja, the state capital.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has designated June 27 as MSMEs Day, to raise awareness of the tremendous contributions of MSMEs to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The governor, who planned to achieve the feat through innovativeness, explained that MSMEs account for 90 per cent of businesses, 60 to 70 per cent of employment and 50 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) worldwide.
According to him, MSME growth is a strategic tool for economic development, adding that the theme properly reflects the importance of the sector.
MSMEs, he stressed, contribute to the local and national economy, and help to sustain livelihoods, especially for the poor, women, youths and other vulnerable people.
He recalled that when he took office as the fourth executive governor of Kogi in January 2016, the state did not have much MSME eco-system or a dedicated agency like the Kogi State Enterprise Development Agency (KEDA).
The agency, he noted, was created to coordinate the immediate and long-term needs of MSMEs, stressing that Kogi needed an outlet to engage and empower the youth population.
He maintained that MSMEs remain the major drivers of economic growth, especially in a non-industralised and developing society like Nigeria.
“I made it one of my pre-occupation to create any agency, through which we could encourage entrepreneurship and ultimately build a strong MSME (platform) in our state. This is why the fourth of the five key thematic areas of our new direction blueprint is to build an engagement of new venture creation,” he said.
The former presidential aspirant, however, lamented that, for a very long time, people depended on the government as the driver of the economy, which led to the over-bloating of the workforce.
His words: “This is why our workforce is over-bloated. The government is confronted with the payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities of 80,000 workers in the civil service, both at state and local councils. The sad thing is that we will need to deploy over 80 per cent of gross government income each to pay this number of persons, yet they constitute less than eight per cent of our 4.5 million population.”
Kogi has, however, adopted July 13 as MSME Day.
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