Governance and Social impact
The Apalara Loan Scheme
ONDO State Government last week Monday disbursed half a billion naira in single interest loans to farmers, cooperative societies, artisans, market men and women across the state.
AT the launch of the micro-credit scheme of the Ondo State government, the governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, declared that scheme was meant for poverty reduction and wealth creation.
THIS is not the first time such is done in the state, it had hitherto not recorded a stellar level of repayment, and in the words of the governor, there were, “humongous backlog of un-recovered loans disbursed under previous administrations.”
RATHER than allow it to deter his administration from providing the loan facilities to those who need it in the state, Akeredolu has summoned enough courage to ask the State Micro-Credit Agency to address the lapses found in the past practices in loan administration in the state, hence the birth of the new scheme, which is inclusive of disabusing the minds of the people that the loans is their share of the proverbial national cake.
THE gesture no doubt has showed the administration’s determination and commitment to lift the good people of the state out of the current shackles of poverty in the land.
THE disbursement sharing formula on gender basis 65 percent N357.5m to women and 35 percent N192.5m to men which cut across major sectors of the economy is a testimony to the strategic importance of women empowerment to good governance, peace at home and their economic contributions through small scale businesses to the total well-being of the society.
THE new payment plan is designed in a very manageable way. It is N600 weekly for mini loans of up to N10,000; N2,500 weekly for micro loans of between N10,000 and N100,000, both to be completed in 52 weeks, with four weeks grace; and N40,000 monthly for SMEs, with loan from N500,000 to N1m to be repaid within three years, with three months grace. And there is nine percent administrative fee as interest.
THE target groups are youths, women, entrepreneur, member of an accredited market association, cooperative or trade groups who have valid BVNs and whose business location could be verified and that the loan would be optimally utilised for job creation, wealth generation and to unleash the entrepreneurial potential and ingenuity in the people for both personal and general benefit of the state.
OUR position is that all that we need to free the people from want is the commensurate readiness of our people to fight poverty head on. We need to re-orientate ourselves that there is no royal road to success. The route to poverty eradication is mainly through hard work, efficient management of availability resources and positive attitude.
THE rhetoric needs to change when it comes to what the government provides. It should be viewed with a new eyes, not the selfish eyes of “chop and clean mouth”, in street parlance, rather the beneficiaries should see their faithful repayment of loans as a contribution to the development of the state, no matter how small it is. This is because we cannot develop as a people while removing ourselves from the responsibility of acting right and with integrity.
PROMPT repayment of loans not only supports the scheme and encourages government to pump in more money, it also qualifies one to benefit more, and opens the possibility of expanding the benefit to others. This culture of viewing loans from government as part of the national largess is against the concept of “omoluabi.”
IT is foolhardy to blame the government for the economic woes of the people, while many who took the loans have refused to honour their financial obligations to pay, therefore hampering the potentials the scheme has for the socio-economic transformation of the society.
SOME may actually be suspicious of the intention of the government for disbursing such an amount close, as it seems, to the period of general election coming up the first quarter of next year.
NEVERTHELESS, it is better late than never as anything that can be done to bring people out of the quagmire of poverty, enhance their economic ideas and initiatives should be welcomed any time any day.
THE Apalara micro-credit scheme is a laudable development and the state government should be commended for taking steps to lift up those who may now be desperate, despairing and frustrated.
WE, however, hope that the enthusiasm with which the money is received is matched with the enthusiasm to use the money for profitable ventures with the needed self discipline, focus and diligence, not diverting it to other things, for timeous repayment and to benefit in the next round of loan disbursement under the scheme when the time comes.