In order to accomplish industrialization through Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the Lagos State Government has sought the partnership of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to Hakeem Muri-Okunola, the Lagos State Head of Service, during the 31st anniversary reunion meeting of the Pioneer 1988 Class of the Lagos State University (LASU), the government, through the deployment of technology, expertise, and financial resources is creating an enabling environment for SMEs to grow.
Mr Muri-Okunola, through the Permanent Secretary, Office of Establishments and Training, Mr. Abiodun Bamgboye, said Lagos State government had been supporting SMEs through the Lagos State Employment Fund and that the country needed businesses that would contribute profoundly to the growth of the economy to address the needs of the people.
Meanwhile, the Director, Development Finance Department, CBN, Dr Mudashiru Olaitan, through the Deputy Director, Development Finance Office, CBN, Adedeji Adebisi, disclosed that lack of capital was hampering the development of start-ups and emphasized the need to increase credit culture to boost SMEs growth.
According to the CBN Director, the SME sector in Nigeria needs over $2 trillion to finance it. And in a bid to solve the problem of access to finance by SMEs, the CBN has established the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF), Agric Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS), Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and financial inclusion programmes.
“The total credit required to fully finance these SMEs is over $2 trillion equivalent to 14% of total developing economies’ gross domestic product (GDP).”
Dr Olaitan stated that there are over 41.5 million Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria and 99.8% are micro-enterprises, which employ 96.3% of Nigeria’s workforce as well as contribute 49.78% of gross domestic product (GDP).
Meanwhile, Dr Olaitan emphasized that MSMEs are integral for economic growth and industrial development, adding that the CBN is committed to reducing poverty by increasing access to credit facilities so as to enable MSMEs participate in economic development of the country.
Isa Pantami: Terrorist sympathizer or victim of his NIN policy
Despite renouncing his past radical views, more people on social media and even public figures, have joined the agitation for his resignation.
The calls for resignation and pressure on the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, over his alleged links to extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram in addition to his pro-Taliban views has continued unabated.
The campaign which started with unconfirmed media reports that the United States Government had allegedly placed him on a security watchlist over alleged links with the late founder and leader of the dreaded Boko Haram group, Mohammed Yusuf, later snowballed into a series of other allegations which border on his extreme Islamic views and activities in the past.
Pantami, an Islamic cleric, in his initial reaction to the allegation of being on US security watchlist due to his extremist views, denied the allegations, saying that he had always preached against the Boko Haram sect for over 15 years over its condemnable doctrines and practices at the expense of his life.
He alleged that those behind these allegations are those who are not happy with his implementation of the good policies of President Muhammadu Buhari on security especially the government policy on National Identification Number (NIN) and threatened legal action against the publishers.
The Minister in his statement said, ‘’News Wire Nigeria your retraction through your independent investigation has been noted. However, investigative journalism requires the investigation before publishing, not after. Further, major publishers will meet my lawyers in court on this defamation of character.
My lectures against the doctrines and all other evil people have been available for over 15 years, including debates that endangered my life against many criminals in Nigeria. If you can’t understand Hausa, get an objective Hausa speaker to translate for you objectively.
For your information, by the Almighty, no amount of intimation will stop Isa Pantami from implementing the good policies of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR on security.”
As the calls from Nigerians for the resignation of the 48-year-old Minister continued, over his religious views, Patanmi, for the first time on Saturday, April 17, 2021, according to some media reports, acknowledged his past religious views but said that he has since renounced those radical comments.
He blamed his past radical leanings on age, immaturity and limited knowledge as well as based on his understanding of religious issues at the time, adding that he has changed several positions taken in the past based on new evidence and maturity,
However, despite renouncing his past radical views, more people on social media and even public figures, have joined the agitation for his resignation, saying that his views as a student cannot be blamed on age.
Some Nigerians have expressed their views on the matter with a good number of them insisting that the Minister has to resign.
A Twitter user, Chris Chukwu, said Nigerians are not going to sleep on this issue because he is a threat to National security.
#PantamiMustGo. We are not going to sleep on this issue. He is a threat to National security.
— Chris Chukwu (@ChukwuChristo18) April 22, 2021
Festus Ogun said that if the President refuses to sack Pantami, he should be prepared for #EndSARS part 2.
Should the President persist in its refusal to sack Pantami, he should be prepared for #EndSARS Part 2. We cannot be talking of a safe country when terrorists are the ones occupying political offices. His continued stay in office is a threat to national security. #PantamiMustGo
— FESTUS OGUN (@mrfestusogun) April 22, 2021
Effiong John, while stating why President Buhari would not sack the Communications Minister said that a terrorist apologist will not sack another terrorist apologist.
A TERRORIST APOLOGIST can never sack a TERRORIST APOLOGIST.
You now understand why Buhari constantly grants amnesty to Boko Haram?
The only thing that will "give" is for us to continue to mount pressure until the international community comes to our rescue.#PantamiMustGo
— Effiong John (@effiongjohn10) April 22, 2021
A human rights activist Comrade Deji Adeyanju said that a terrorist sympathizer is a terrorist.
A terrorist sympathizer is a terrorist. #PantamiMustGo
— Comrade Deji Adeyanju (@adeyanjudeji) April 22, 2021
Ayemojubar lamented that Nigeria has been taken over by terrorists.
Nigeria has been hijacked by terrorists, to worsen the case this high-speed train has lost total control.#PantamiMustGo
— Ayemojubar (@ayemojubar) April 22, 2021
Another Twitter user, Abiodun Sanusi said that sympathizing with Isa Pantami is the same as showing sympathy for Osama Bin Laden.
Sympathizing with Isa Pantami is the same as showing sympathy for Osama Bin Laden or Biko Haram. Religious extremists are no different from terrorists!#PantamiResignNow #PantamiMustResign #PantamiMustGo #PantamiMustLeave 👇👇👇 pic.twitter.com/76jSduJiWl
— Abiodun Sanusi (@AbiodunSanusi01) April 18, 2021
However, while responding to Governor Wike’s reaction to the issue, a former presidential aspirant, Omoyele Sowore said that the Rivers State Governor was only grandstanding as he was some time ago, caught on tape threatening to kill an INEC official.
@GovWike is grandstanding as usual, when he was caught on tape threatening to kill @inecnigeria officials who don’t do his bidding and bribing them to rig elections, did he resign! Funny quacks! #PantamiMustGo #BuhariMustGo Receipts: https://t.co/jxazsPN4pi
— Omoyele Sowore (@YeleSowore) April 22, 2021
Some Nigerians have, however, expressed their support and sympathy for the Minister as they believed that he is being victimized for some of the government’s policies that he is driving.
A Twitter user Khaleel Kumo said that #Pantami must go is purely hypocritical and directed at anything good that comes out from Islam.
#PantamiMustGo is pure hypocrisy directed at blackmailing everything good that comes from Islam/Muslims as usual.
I am a patriotic Nigerian who cares about her peace and progress, And i say…….. #IStandWithPantami
— Khaleel Kumo (@Khalilkumo) April 22, 2021
A Twitter user Faarees asked that the #PantamiMustGo must stop trending and Nigerians should go and link their SIM with their NIN.
— F A A R E E S 💫 (@MFaarees_) April 22, 2021
Musbey in his defence for Pantami said that as long as you are a practising Muslim and successful, they will hate you.
As long as you're a practising Muslim and successful, they'll hate you. This happens to Southern practising Muslims as well. A Southwestern politician who's a practising Muslim was labelled with all sorts of names and allegations because he's not one of them. #PantamiWillStay
— ＭＵＳＢＥＹ (@Mus6ey) April 17, 2021
Also, in defence of the Communications Minister, the Presidency through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity said that Pantami, made those extremist remarks when he was in his 20s and has since then retracted them and changed his views.
The Presidency pointed out that this currently manufactured dispute has nothing to do with the Minister’s prior words but rather concerns over his actions in the present which include leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing, deregistering 9.2 million SIMs thereby ending the ability for criminals and terrorists to use mobile networks undetected.
Also reacting to alleged links of Pantami to the death of the late former Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa, the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State chapter, Rev. John Hayab, warned against linking the death of Yakowa to Dr Isa Pantami.
He called on Nigerians to ignore such insinuations and release of some documents with doubtful authenticity, which endangers national peace.
The very critical question is why these allegations are coming up now after almost 2 years in office as a Minister. Is he a terrorist sympathizer, an allegation he has denied or is he a victim of some of the government policies whose execution he is spearheading?
These are questions that are still begging for answers.
Presidency condemns smear campaign against Dr Isa Patanmi, the communications Minister
According to Garba Shehu, the FG stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.
The Presidency has dismissed the ongoing smear campaign against the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, instigated by those who want him to be removed from office.
This follows the calls for his resignation by Nigerians over his alleged links to some terrorist organizations and some extremist statements he made over 20 years ago.
This reaction is contained in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Thursday in Abuja, describing such calls as unfortunate.
He said that it is unfair and unfortunate for anyone to seek for the downfall of a hard-working public servant due to a statement he/she made in the past even after such a statement had been rejected by the affected person.
What the Presidential Media Aide is saying
Shehu in his statement, said, ”Today, there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that makes leaders in politics, religion, and civil society liable in the present for every statement they have ever made in the past – no matter how long ago, and even after they have later rejected them.
This insidious phenomenon seeks to cancel the careers of others on the basis of a thing they have said, regardless of when they said it. The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami is, currently, subject to a “cancel campaign” instigated by those who seek his removal.
They do not really care what he may or may not have said some 20 years ago: that is merely the instrument they are using to attempt to cancel him. But they will profit should he be stopped from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.
The Minister has, rightly, apologized for what he said in the early 2000s. The views were absolutely unacceptable then and would be equally unacceptable today, were he to repeat them. But he will not repeat them – for he has publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong.
In the 2000s, the minister was a man in his twenties; next year he will be 50, time has passed, and people and their opinions – often rightly – change.”
Shehu pointed out that Pantami was deliberately being attacked to rubbish the achievements of the Buhari administration in the ICT sector.
He also listed the achievements of Pantami in the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy in the past two and a half years.
“This Administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians – and that includes ensuring they are not over-charged or under-protected for those services on which modern life depends.
The Minister has been leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing. He has revolutionized the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money. He has established ICT start-up centres to boost youth entrepreneurship and create jobs.
He has changed policy to ensure locally produced ICT content is used by ministries, starting with his own; and he has deregistered some 9.2 million SIMs – ending the ability for criminals and terrorists to flagrantly use mobile networks undetected.
In two short years, Minister Pantami has driven the contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP to more than 18 percent, making it one of the top two playing a critical role in the emergence of the economy from the COVID 19-induced recession.’’
Shehu said, “The minister and this administration have made enemies. There are those in the opposition who see success and want it halted by any means.
And there is now well-reported information that alleges newspaper editors rebuffed an attempt to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies, many of which do indeed stand to lose financially through lower prices and greater consumer protections.
The government is now investigating the veracity behind these claims of attempted inducement, and – should they be found to hold credence – police and judicial action must be expected.
The Administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services,” he added.
In case you missed it
It can be recalled that Some Nigerians had asked Pantami to resign over his alleged links to some terrorist groups including Boko Haram, an allegation that the Minister had denied.
Today, there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that makes leaders in politics, religion, and civil society liable in the present for every statement they have ever made in the past – no matter how long ago, and even after they have later rejected them.
— Garba Shehu (@GarShehu) April 22, 2021
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