The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Industry, Prof. Eno Ikpe, has pledged her full commitment in revitalizing the small and medium scales enterprises operating in the state.
The Commissioner who brought the ray of hope to the Akwa Ibom business community yesterday during a one-day financial capacity building programme organized by her ministry for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), said that since she was invited to serve the state government, she is willing to give her best in supporting private business sector in the state.
Responding to the question over lack of Akwa Ibom State’s partnership with the Bank of Industry in raising Counterpart Fund for SMEs, Prof. Ikpe stressed that given the financial downturn, the State Government cannot meet with the condition of providing N2.5 billion but it is willing to negotiate with N500 million.
Ikpe revealed plans made by President Muhammadu Buhari to provide Niger-Delta with funds for economic improvement while stating the state government’s readiness to key into the largesse.
“President Buhari wants to inject money to Niger-Delta in order to douse tension, and we in the state plans to support the small and medium scale industries. We are packaging so that this state would benefit from the presidency,” she said.
The commissioner who was amazed by the complaint made by a representative of Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. David Udo over a 10 year non-issuance of Certificate of Occupancy in the state, promised to draw the issue to the attention of the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
While disclosing that she is deeply worried by the state of investment, development and the performance of SMEs in the state, the commissioner maintained that elsewhere in the world, SMEs are important component in the economy, and expressed optimism that there is hope as the state government would be focusing on the SMEs.
Ikpe, a renowned Professor of History, decried lack of patronage of locally-made products in the country, describing the act as a left-over of colonial mentality. She emphasized that people should go for home-made products as this would guarantee the growth of domestic industries.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Richard Imonije of Bank of Industry, charged the entrepreneurs to imbibe the culture of record-keeping saying that it is essential in attracting the commitment of the investors. He promised that soon, Bank of Industry would establish its office in Akwa Ibom State.
Mr Imonije who bemoaned lack of basic business capacity, lack of trust by Nigerians in domestic products, inconsistency of government policies, amongst other challenges, maintained that there is a growing acknowledgement of the important roles MSMEs play in economic development. He listed requirements that could facilitate easy access to Bank of Investment’s credit facility to the entrepreneurs.
Also speaking, Mr. Emana Edem, the Uyo Branch Manager of Stanbic IBTC Bank, said that providing collateral as one of the conditions for obtaining loan from commercial bank is not as important as the capacity to run the account with the banks consistently. He said that his bank can grant loan for applicants whose bank statements show rapid turn-over irrespective of where they are banking.
Mr. Edem held that his bank has not been lending much as the people in the state have not been embracing the culture of banking. The Stanbic IBTC Branch Manager said that he is under pressure to loan out funds because he has the target of over N500 million facility to give out to SMEs.