Lagos State government has said that disbursement of N6.25 billion to interested unemployed Lagosian youths seeking to set themselves up in small-scaled businesses will commence before the end of September.
However, the state government quickly warned that beneficiaries should apply the funds rightly as contained in their various application forms, else they risked payment of twice the loans approved for them or a jail term of two years on conviction.
Lagos State Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Mr Babatunde Durosimi-Etti, said this at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, during the Awareness/Sensitisation Programme on the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, which was organised by the Office of Civic Engagement.
According to the commissioner, who said the fund is part of the total of N25 billion set aside to assist the unemployed youths in the state to create wealth by enabling them to set up businesses of their own, noted that the programme was created by the state government headed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to be an all inclusive one for artisans, traders, among others.
“Lagos has a lot of unemployed youths and because of its security implication, this ministry was set up to tackle the problem. The governor has directed that there should be a fund that people should access.
“The idea is to have an all inclusive programme that every unemployed youth, artisan, trader, among others would have access,” he said.
The commissioner assured that the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, consisted of representatives of body of professionals, civil society groups and two representatives from government, would give out the loans at very low interest rate of three per cent.
“Before the end of September, the fund would be available to those who would apply for it,” the commissioner said, urging those interested to access it to group themselves together trade by trade to make for easy access and repayment of the loans.
Speaking at the event, the State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, while enjoining right application of the loans on the part of expected beneficiaries, warned that whoever filled fake entries in terms of names or addresses, if found out, would on conviction by the court of competent jurisdiction be asked to repay twice the amount he or she obtained as loan or be sentenced to a two-year imprisonment.
According to the commissioner, who was represented by Mrs Tola Akinsanya, anybody who also misapplied the loan given to him or her, by getting to marry another wife and spending burial of long dead father or any frivolous things would also attract same penalties on conviction.
Earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor, Office of Civic Engagement, Mr Kehinde Joseph, said the essence of the awareness programme was to sensitize the youths and indeed everyone about the Employment Trust Fund and how to access it.
He said the Fund was to spur the beneficiaries, engender the development of entrepreneurial spirit among the youth and residents and help tackle the problem of unemployment.
“The government is of the strong belief that with this measure in place, more people will be able to participate in the economic growth of the state,” he said.