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Kwara Supports SMEs With Interest-Free Loans

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At least 490 small businesses have won varying amounts of non-interest loans under the Kwara State social investment programme to grow their enterprises.

Fidel Info reports that Ten of the 490 young business owners got either N1.5m or N2m each at a symbolic ceremony where Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq handed them the cheques.

The 10 main winners, who pitched different business ideas ranging from printing, fashion, waste recycling, and agric value chains, are Hussein Ahmed (N1.5m); Azeez Akeem (N1.5m); Soliu Muhammed Lanre (N2m); Oladunni Kafilat Olaide (N2m);

Femi Peter (N1.5m); Sanusi Ismail Adeshina (N2m); Ali Michael (N2m); Kareem Naimat (N2m); Adebayo Hadiat Tinuola (N1.5); and Abdulrauf Abdulraheem (N1.5m).

The winners emerged from a rigorous process involving 15,708 applicants following different layers of screening by jurors drawn from the private sector and public service top players.

The interest-free loan was given through Kwapreneur 3.0, a third in the series of the youth-focused initiative to support young people to thrive.

AbdulRazaq said his administration will continue to implement policies and programmes that will make Kwara a better place to live, invest, and work.

“This is another success story and a boost for small scale businesses in the state. Our administration will not relent in making Kwara State a better place to live and invest,” he said.

AbdulRazaq congratulated the finalists of the third series of the scheme and said the programme could become a quarterly affair to accommodate more beneficiaries.

Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) had been established to positively impact the lives of the poor, the vulnerable, the unemployed and those at the bottom of the financial pyramid and have no access to funding, the Governor said.

“KWAPRENEUR is one of the many poverty alleviating activities of KWASSIP. It is one of the ways to provide funding for small businesses, lubricate the economy, and reduce poverty. We are simply trying to give everyone a fair shot and a sense of belonging within available resources,” he added.

Abdulquowiy Olododo, KWASSIP Chief, said: “Kwapreneur is a non-interest loan scheme that is designed for young entrepreneurs in Kwara State to support new young businesses and help existing businesses to expand. The overall objective of the scheme is to ensure we encourage youth entrepreneurship to create the next generation of Job creators to see that Kwara State becomes a business-driven economy.

“Series of stages have been passed in screening the applications we received based on key criteria to determine the final beneficiaries for Kwapreneur 3.0.

“It is also interesting to know that as we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of applications is the same way we have seen a substantial increase in the number of beneficiaries for Kwapreneur 3.0, with a total number of 490 beneficiaries, compared to the 170 and 100 beneficiaries in Kwapreneur 1.0 and 2.0 respectively.”

The event was attended by cabinet members;  Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Job Creation Barrister Aliyu Al-Hassan; Director General, State APC Campaign Council Alhaji Abdulfatai Yahaya Seriki; and a top chieftain of State APC Chief Gbenle Adeyemi.

The panelists included Mr. Yinka Umar, a successful banker from the Fidelity bank with 17 years experience; Adebayo Lawal from Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN); Mrs Rukayat Yahaya, CEO Temirah Entrepreneur Community (TEM); Abdulraheem Oldimeji; and Abdulkareem Abdulrasaq, an enterpreneur and social critic.

Courage Balogun, one of the beneficiaries of Kwaprenuour 1.0 who gave a goodwill message, described AbdulRazaq as a lover of the youths, testifying that the Governor’s passion for Kwarans, particularly young entrepreneurs, transcends religious, ethnic and political boundaries.

Balogun recalled that she got an interest-free loan during the first phase of it on the basis of merit, encouraging the latest beneficiaries of the loan to use the funds judiciously.

She appreciated the administration for investing so much in the youths in several ways.

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FG Announces A Delay In Port Harcourt Refinery Operations

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The Port Harcourt Refinery, whose activities were originally planned to begin in December 2022, will now begin before the end of the first quarter of 2023, according to the Federal Government.

Fidel Info reports that On Monday in Abuja, during the Federal Ministry of Information’s series on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd. ), regime scorecard, Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, revealed this.

Giving reasons for the delay, Kyari said, “The promise was to start the fuel plant, which is the 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) component of this activity by the last quarter of 2022, but it is not practical. So, we will start it off in the first quarter of 2023, otherwise, every other process is ongoing.”

Giving further details on the state of the refinery, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said, “The rehabilitation of the 60,000 barrels per day is being completed and it is going to be started in the first quarter.”

Speaking on the FG’s planned stop to the importation of petroleum products into the country in 2023, Sylva noted that the Dangote refinery, which has a 650,000 barrels per day capacity, and modular refineries across the country, were contributors to the plan.

He said some modular refineries such as the Waltersmith modular refinery, where the NNPC has a 30 per cent stake, and the Duport modular refinery, where NNPC also has a 30 per cent stake, would also start operations in 2023, promising a significant reduction to the importation of petroleum products.

Sylva also noted that fuel subsidy was not sustainable, adding that petroleum product prices should be market driven in Nigeria like in other countries where products sell higher than Nigeria’s current official PMS price at N180 per litre.

The Minister had, in November 2022, announced that the Port Harcourt Refinery, which has been undergoing refurbishment at the cost of $1.5 billion, and which is projected to be delivering 60,000 barrels per day of refined crude, would commence operations by the end of December 2022.

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Here’s Why Canada Banned Nigerians From Buying Real Estate Properties

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Following an increase in real estate market values, the Canadian government has made it illegal for foreigners to purchase property in the nation.

Fidel Info reports that the law was passed by the North American nation after the Covid-19 pandemic began, but it became effective on Sunday, January 1, 2023.

Canada made this decision, which will only be in effect for two years, because some MPs thought that buyers were to blame for driving up the supply of properties for investment purposes and driving up prices.

The appeal of Canadian homes, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party last year, is drawing profiteers, powerful corporations, and international investors.

Ottawa also clarified in late December that the ban will only apply to city residences and not to recreational properties like summer cottages.

During the 2021 election campaign, when home ownership was out of reach for many Canadians due to skyrocketing prices, Trudeau offered this short-term, two-year policy.

According to the campaign site, “This is leading to a real problem of underused and vacant housing, rampant speculation, and skyrocketing prices. Homes are for people, not investors.” 

Following their 2021 election victory, the Liberals quietly introduced the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act.

Major markets such as Vancouver and Toronto have also introduced taxes on non-residents and empty homes, as per Associated Press report.

However, in the law, an exception has been made for the immigrants and permanent residents of Canada who are not citizens, as per reports from the country.

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Benue: Motorists Distressed As Fuel Sells At N380 Per Litre

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In spite of the NNPC Limited’s intervention, commuters and drivers in Benue state are complaining and wailing about the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popularly known as gasoline, which is still selling for as much as N380 per litre.

Fidel Info reports that the fact that almost no filling stations owned by big marketers in the state have the product has made the problem worse.

Findings showed that black marketers sell for between N360 and N380 per litre, while the few independent marketers who have products sell to desperate motorists for between N270 and N300 per litre.

Vehicle owners struggle frantically to enter the NNPC Mega Station on Otukpo Road in order to purchase the commodity, which is being sold at a price set by the government.

Some drivers who were unable to contain their anger at the ongoing situation pleaded with the authorities to get involved and resolve it.

A commercial motorbike operator named David Okube bemoaned that huge gas stations in the state were purposefully making things difficult for the people by not dispensing products to the general public while he and other riders waited to acquire the product from the mega station.

“Why will it be only the mega station that is selling fuel to the public, why are other major marketers not selling weeks after the government took steps to ensure that there is enough product in the country?”

“Even nearby Abuja that was hard hit by scarcity now has products. But when you come to Benue state they are selling to us at between N270 and N300 per litre while the black marketers are selling for about N380 per litre some even sell for N400 especially at night.”

“We cannot continue like this because the people are suffering. If you come to mega station to buy you will spend the whole day here and if you are unlucky you might not get to buy before they lock up,” he said.

Also, a medical doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity lamented that it was unacceptable for Nigerians to continue to go through pains in order to buy petrol.

“How can a responsible and responsive government allow its citizens go through this kind of pains in order to buy fuel. I am a medical doctor who is supposed to be in the hospital attending to patients but I abandoned that assignment to search for fuel. Why are all the major marketers in Makurdi not selling fuel. Why are we still buying fuel for about N300 per litre in Benue? It is killing to say the least.”

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