Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Tuesday said the administration will continue to support small and medium scale businesses to deepen economic growth and fight poverty.
He said Nigeria’s trade and commerce have continued to suffer limited growth because the country consumes more than what it produces, adding that this largely accounts for the economic hardship in many households.
He said despite the fact that the oil and gas industry has been a catalyst of economic success in the country, there are a few instances of disbenefits in Nigeria’s reliance on the product, urging government at all levels as well the citizens to be productive rather than always consuming.
Speaking in Ilorin at the opening of the 9th Kwara Joint Trade Fair 2022, the Governor said the event came at a time that government and private sector players should deepen their collaboration for growth.
“The timing and importance of this year’s event is unique because it comes at a time when all hands must be on deck to jointly improve the business climate in a sustainable way,” he said, while declaring open the 9th Kwara Joint Trade Fair.
Themed “Harmony through Commerce”, the Fair was jointly organised by the Kwara Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KWACCIMA), the Kwara State government, and the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprise (NASME).
“Undeniably, our oil and gas industry has contributed and assisted Nigeria’s economic prosperity and growth. Nevertheless, this has come with its own downsides, including undue consumerism and unhealthy fixation on white collar jobs. This fixation caused millions of people to abandon trade and commerce in search of such jobs,” the Governor added.
“The consequences have been grave for not just the country but also to sustainable economic development and standard of living of many families. Agrarian communities and mostly commercial centers built on trade have mostly been deserted today. Our agrarian economy collapsed with the oil boom of the 1970s. The rest of history.”
Represented by the Speaker Kwara State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Yakubu Danladi Salihu, AbdulRazaq called for a change of orientation among Nigerians and urged them to continue to make efforts to grow the economy through trade, agro-processing, tourism, and innovation.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his efforts to de-emphasise Nigeria’s reliance on oil and rebuild the economy through massive investments in infrastructure in road and rail, agribusiness, and commerce, among others.
He said the Federal government’s efforts align with his administration’s support for the SMEs and the general human capital development in the state.
“This is also our focus in Kwara as we make concerted efforts to support small and medium enterprises, agribusiness, innovation, and general human capital development that will raise a new generation of competent manpower for the job of now and of tomorrow, ” he said.
“Our decision to support businesses and fund various job-creating projects like the Garment Factory, Visual Arts Centre, Film Factory, International Conference Centre, Shea Butter Factory, agroprocessing zone, as well as opening up key agrarian areas with roads while easing the business climate is geared towards this goal. It is the same reason we have committed to yearly support of this Trade Fair and other private sector led initiatives.
“The State Government has also established different structures and projects to identify the development in trade and investments and lawful exploration of our abundant mineral resources. Such organizations are the restructured Ministry of Business, Innovation and Technology, Kwara Investment Promotion Agency, Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP), reconstituted Bureau of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and the newly structured Ministry of Economic Planning, Research and Statistics.”
He commended the leaderships of KWACCIMA and other relevant bodies for their complementary roles in driving the SMEs and for encouraging young entrepreneurs to thrive.
The event was well-attended by dignitaries from far and near, including cabinet members, captains of industry, representative of the state Head of Service Alhaji Tunde Salami, Permanent Secretaries, CEO KAM Holdings and Chairman of the occasion Dr. Kamoru Ibitoye Yusuf; Coordinator of Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone Dr. Abbey Onas, and KWACCIMA President Alhaji Ayodimeji Olalekan Fatai, State Chairman of NASME, Arc. Zakirudeen Oladotun, representative of the Emir of Ilorin and Alangua Owode-oja Alhaji Kayode Sidiq, representative of the Chairman Governing Council of NAFDAC Dr. Muftau Yahya, leaders of marketers’ associations, and several product exhibitors among others.
State Commissioner for Business, Innovation and Technology, Ibrahim Akaje, for his part, said the fair witnessed an upsurge in the number of participants, stakeholders and patronage, who came from within and outside the country.
He said the government was encouraged by the reports it got from past participants on the impacts of the trade fair on their goods and services.
Dr. Onas, who was the guest of honor at the occasion, urged the administration to continue to play its best part to encourage the business community, noting that the state has what it takes to woo local and foreign investors to grow its economy.
He thanked the Governor, KWACCIMA and the people of the state for their hospitality and for hosting a colorful Trade Fair, expressing delight that he was always glad to visit the state.
KWACCIMA President Alhaji Ayodimeji Olalekan Fatai, described the gathering as a place where people come not only to sell their products but to also network their businesses through exchange of ideas with their counterparts.
He said the turnout of participants in this year’s edition has been very encouraging and hoped that the size will be multiplied before the end of the programme, calling on the government to hasten action on the establishment of industrial parks in the state to improve MSME activities.
He also appealed to the government to increase infrastructural development in some of the incubation centers in the state to encourage young entrepreneurs to develop their ideas.
State Chairman for NASME, Arc. Zakirudeen Oladotun, in his remarks, said the MSME contributes more than 25 percent to GDP, and more than 65 percent to employment in the country, saying this figure cannot be overemphasized.
At least 170 SMEs and 60 large scale businesses are participating in the Fair that will last till 20th of December this year.
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