Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, has empowered another set of 48 indigent citizens of the state with cash and material support to the tune of N20 million.
The fund was disbursed on behalf of the governor on Wednesday at the Governor’s Office, Ado-Ekiti, by his senior special assistant, Sola Abe.
She said the intervention was in line with the fulfilment of Mr Oyebanji’s campaign promises of shared prosperity and reduction of poverty among the populace.
The governor’s aide explained that the intervention ranged from payment of school fees and medical bills to the expansion of businesses with necessary equipment.
She said it was a way of providing succour to vulnerable indigenes of the state in serious need of financial assistance to improve their livelihood.
She noted that Mr Oyebanji was passionate about helping the less privileged, even before he became governor, and hence, he had earmarked a certain amount from his personal purse monthly for the cause.
This, according to her, is a way of reaching out and rendering a helping hand to the needy indigenes who are not employed but have some vocational skills.
The governor’s aide charged all the beneficiaries to spend the money and utilise the equipment judiciously, adding that what they all requested was given to them without any reduction.
She also stated that a monitoring team would visit them regularly to know how they were faring and ensure they used the money and the equipment for the purpose they were given.
Among the beneficiaries of the largesse were tailors, dry cleaners, traders, and hairdressers, among others, who were given full equipment to start or boost their businesses.
On modalities for disbursement, Mrs Abe said, “We receive requests from indigenes asking for assistance, and it varies from tuition, medicals or expansion of businesses, so we do our investigation, market survey, verify claims and disburse.
“We have 48 beneficiaries today, and the mode of selecting them is that they write a letter to the governor, and he charges them to our office.
“We then call the applicants, ask questions and confirm if they actually learn the trades. We also ask if they are already in the business or if they want to start afresh before we eventually verify their claims.
“March next year will make it a year that we have started the programme, so we will assess how the programme has fared in one year by going out to monitor the activities of beneficiaries to be sure that it’s actually meeting the needs and plugging all holes in homes.
“The only criteria we ask for is that you must be from Ekiti. No political colouration.
“This is more of the governor’s personal project, this is what he is doing himself to ensure he reaches out to people in his own way.
“In fact, he had been doing this before he became governor. And I think people now know about it, so the volume of requests that come to him has become enormous.”
Some of the beneficiaries, including Abiodun Olatoye, Yemi Adefemi and Odunayo Obafemi, spoke glowingly about the love Mr Oyebanji has for the less privileged in the state.
Mr Olatoye, a barber, said he had just written for assistance from the governor and was surprised to receive a call to come to the Governor’s Office to receive equipment he needed for his business and money to rent a shop.
He expressed appreciation to the governor for making life easy for him as he did not have any helper who could have assisted him in getting a shop and purchase equipment for him.