Stakeholders, technocrats, international players and beneficiaries have paid glowing tributes to Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration’s vision for keying into the World Bank-assisted programme- Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project.
Enugu is the only Southeast state that is participating in the programme.
The project is aimed at achieving food sufficiency. It also improves the livelihood of the masses especially, the women, youths and people with disabilities (PWDs) in the rural communities of the state.
The stakeholders spoke in their separate goodwill messages in solidarity with Governor Ugwuanyi during the kick off of the implementation in Enugu, Rev. Fr. Prof. Monsignor Obiora Ike, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Charles Igwe, the founding Director of Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (OON), the Special Adviser to the Governor and Focal Person, World Bank/Development Partner Projects, Uche Fidelis Nnadi, the acting State Coordinator, APPEALS project, Enugu State, Mrs. Ihuoma Eze, beneficiaries, among others, lauded the governor for the successes the programme has recorded in impacting positively the lives of women, youths and people with disabilities in the rural areas.
They said that Enugu State’s effective participation in the APPEAL project is a testimony to the governor’s commitment to the wellbeing of the people and the fulfillment of his four-point agenda anchored on wealth creation and employment generation.
The stakeholders disclosed that this is the first time in the history of Nigeria where a project is targeted at the lives of people with disabilities, stressing that such an initiative is worthy of commendation.
While Prof. Ike said he joined many others from far and near to congratulate Ugwuanyi for the great support he gives the APPEALS project supported by the World Bank in touching the lives of many young people and the PWDs in the state, Prof. Igwe (UNN) and Prof. Ezeilo (WACOL) also hailed the governor and the good people of the state for the huge and excellent initiative.
Hon. Nnaji hinted that “this is the first time in the history of Nigeria where a project is targeted at touching the lives of people with disabilities, saying: “So it is a salutary development in Nigeria that we are now allowing people with disabilities to benefit; they are part and parcel of us. They are our brothers and sisters, including our wives. And this is the first programme that is targeted at them.”
In his welcome address during the kickoff by Governor Ugwuanyi, at Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, the APPEALS Project Coordinator in Enugu State, Mrs. Eze said that the Enugu State government through the effective collaboration with the World Bank disbursed N3.4 billion to 1,700 women, youths and people with disabilities resident across the 17 local government areas of the state.
Mrs. Eze who revealed that each of the beneficiaries got N2milion and have been able to start businesses in agriculture in five value chains (cashew, poultry, rice, aquaculture and cassava) focusing on production, processing and marketing, added that out of the 1,700 beneficiaries, “55.8 percent are women and girls while 5 percent are persons with disabilities and special needs.”
She said that NYEP which began in Enugu State in August 2019 with a call for Expression of Interest as advertised in national dailies for eligible residents of Enugu State, had a total submission of 29,707 valid applications which were pruned down to 1,700 beneficiaries through a rigorous, competitive and transparent selection process.
Mrs. Eze explained that the beneficiaries went through a two-week intensive business and technical training at reputable training centres which the state conducted along chosen value chain of poultry, rice, cashew and cassava.
The coordinator added that “the beneficiaries were further assisted by the project with the development of a fundable and viable Business Investment Plans (BIPs) which have all received clearance from the World Bank and start-up grants for the establishment of the agribusinesses as contained in the cleared business plans all lodged into their respective corporate accounts.
“It is interesting to note that although an individual enterprise accessed approximately N2 million each, group enterprises, comprising two-five individuals per group, accessed between N4 million and N10 million.”
Pointing out that Enugu is the only state in the South East to participate in the APPEALS project “while having five other participating states namely Cross River, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Lagos,”Mrs. Eze urged residents of Enugu State and the beneficiaries “to ensure that they fulfill their citizenship obligation by voting into office credible men and women who will continue with the trajectory of development already established by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration.”
Recall that the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State, Barr. Ndubuisi Mbah when “Development Partners’ Family” in Enugu paid a solidarity/thank you visit to Governor Ugwunayi recently promised to continue with the programmes of the development partners if elected as governor.
Speaking further, the APPEAL State Coordinator expressed sincere gratitude to Governor Ugwuanyi for ensuring a smooth implementation process of the WYEP in the state “across the various components of the project, thus, touching lives directly and indirectly.”
Mrs. Eze wished the beneficiaries of the programme in the state success in their various agribusiness enterprises so that they can become employers of labour, adding: “You serve as champions and role models for the teeming women and youths in the society; and you positively transform your own livelihoods for the best in all ramifications.”
Flagging off the implementation programme, Governor Ugwuanyi represented by his deputy, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, stated that his administration committed itself to the APPEALS project to achieve food sufficiency and empower the people of the state, especially the women, youths and people with disabilities in the rural areas.
The governor stressed that the APPEALS project touches on three thematic areas namely; productivity enhancement, growing private investment and institutional alignment, noting that the project is germane to the state government’s four- point agenda of food security, rural development, job creation and good governance.
Represented by the Commissioner for Rural Development, Dr. Kingsley Udeh, the PDP governorship candidate, Dr. Mbah commended Governor Ugwuanyi for always having the interest of the people at heart, describing the governor as “a leader who is keen in driving people out of poverty; a man who is the foundation behind APPEALS project in Enugu State.”
Dr. Mbah promised to sustain the laudable project and urged the beneficiaries to avail themselves the opportunity of enhancing their economic and social development.
In their separate remarks, the National Project Coordinator, APPEALS, Alhaji Mohammed Sanni Jobdi, represented by the National Women and Youth Livelihood Specialist, APPEALS, Mrs. Heather Ronke Akanni,