Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson on Friday disbursed N500m out of the N1bn earmarked for women empowerment to various cooperative groups in the 32 Rural Development Areas of the State.
Speaking at the flag-off of the women empowerment programme at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Yenagoa, Hon. Dickson charged the various organs of government in charge of the disbursement to be transparent by ensuring that the funds get to the beneficiaries before the end of the year.
Flanked by his wife, Dr. Rachael Dickson and other top government functionaries at the occasion, the governor said the gesture would open a vista of opportunities for the beneficiaries, and therefore urged them to make judicious use of the disbursed funds.
The rationale behind the scheme, according to the Commissioner was to enable Bayelsans take control of the local economy, disclosing that his administration would soon float a similar programme which is aimed at empowering the teeming youth in the state.
His words: ?One of the policies of my administration is to free you from any kind of slave mentality. We are determined to free you from being slaves to anybody. Take control and be masters and mistresses of your lives and destinies by making judicious use of the opportunity provided by the government.
?Don?t spend this money to buy wrapper and things for Christmas but use it to do something meaningful that will empower you and your family so that you will not depend on anybody.
?The whole fund will be released before the end of December, 2013, and if it went well, we will vote another N1bn for next year. We will not stop until the average serious Bayelsa woman is liberated economically.?
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development , Mrs Sarafina Otazi had observed that the empowerment programme would spark a multiplier effect not only in the families of the beneficiaries but also on the entire Bayelsa economy.
She implored the beneficiaries to justify government?s confidence in women by keeping faith with the terms and conditions of the scheme, especially in the area of repayment.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director General of the Bayelsa State Micro-Finance and Enterprise Development Agency, Mr. Ifiemi Ikpaikpai described the programme as a revolving soft loan scheme with an 18 month repayment period.
The presentation of cheque to the beneficiaries, according to Mr Ikpaikpai, would be done during the Governor?s thank you tour to the eight local government areas of the state next week.
To ensure success of the programme, he said government has concluded plans to partner with the Central Bank of Nigeria to give entrepreneurship training to the beneficiaries to build the capacity of the beneficiaries in small business management.
Dignitaries present at the occasion include, the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, (rtd), the Nollywood Actress, Eucharia Anunobi and host of others.
Meanwhile,? the state government has condemned the inter communal clash between Akenfa and Agudama-Epie communities in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state which reportedly left in its trail the death of no fewer than three persons while several others were severely injured.
A Government House statement noted with dismay this ugly situation and therefore called on the feuding communities to sheathe their sword pending the outcome of the investigation of a panel set up by the government.
The panel headed by the State Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha john Jonah (rtd) has as its members, the Commissioner of Police, Director of the State Security Service, the Commissioner of Lands and Survey and the Special Adviser on Security Matters to the Governor.
The setting up of the committee, according to the statement becomes imperative in order to find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis.
However, where such cannot be achieved, the government will be forced to invoke a section of the constitution and take over the ownership of the land in accordance with the laws of the land.
The statement added that security operatives have been deployed to the area to prevent any form of reprisal attack by either of the feuding parties.
Meanwhile, representatives of the affected communities have been summoned to a meeting with the committee headed by the Deputy Governor by seven o?clock in the morning on Saturday, 23rd of this month at the Deputy Governor?s office, Government House, Yenagoa.