I have disbursed N50m worth of grant to my constituents – Reps Member

By Salihu Waziri, Abuja

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A member of the House of Representatives representing Kaltungo/Shongom Federal Constituency in Gombe state, Dr. Obed Paul Shehu disclosed that he has disbursed over fifty million naira worth of grants to members of his constituency without any budgetary allocation from the Federal government since he assumed office as a legislator one year ago.

Dr. Obed who spoke in an interview with Voice of Nigeria in Abuja, also revealed that although the funds for the 2024 National Assembly budget allocation for Zonal Intervention Projects has not yet been released by the Federal government, he has through personal efforts impacted the lives of over 100 persons in his constituency with grants to boost their business.

“There is a very high level of unemployment among our youths, that is why we are addressing it locally even as the federal government is trying to address it nationally.

“It may interest you to know that we have disbursed over fifty million naira as grants to business persons mostly young men and women in our constituency. That goes to show you where our priority lies. As the saying goes: when you empower a woman you build a home but for the youths it is better to teach them how to fish than giving them fish. We will not want to keep our people dependent on handouts from politicians. That is why we are promising empowerment and training. I am an entrepreneur myself. I lead by example and I think it is very important that our people chart a new path for themselves by participating in the economy because 96% of businesses in this country are Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These small businesses form the cornerstone of the country’s economy. They contribute about 45% of the GDP of the country and employ more than 70% of the population. So it is a critical sector if you want to reduce unemployment in this country. So you need to look into businesses and you cannot do effective business without training and start-up grants.

“So we felt that the low hanging fruit in our community is agriculture as most of our people are farmers. It is therefore important we teach them new modern farming methods. So our training is focused on modern techniques of agriculture” Dr Obed said.

The legislator who also responded to critics who think the zonal intervention projects captured in the 2024 National Assembly budget does not address the immediate needs of the people, argued that the bedrock of any productive society begins with acquiring knowledge that can be gotten through trainings, hence the need for the selected zonal intervention projects.

“The other Zonal Intervention Project is to train women and youth in mining. The federal government is making efforts to see that we diversify our source of revenue generation in this country and they are putting a lot of effort in the mining sector. So it is unfair for us to be left behind. We know for a fact that there are a lot of mineral resources in our communities and I think it will be a wise move to train our youths in mining so that they can participate in their local economy. We are very futuristic in our thinking and that is why we want to prepare our young men and women to take advantage of the natural resources that are around them.

“We are also going to carryout trainings on Lapidary and Geology which is how to turn solid minerals into ornaments. If they get trained and we get them equipment, they can add value to the precious stones that you find in our communities sometimes by the river banks and they sell it at cheap rates. If we add value to these precious stones, we are going to create wealth for our communities” Dr Obed said.

Dr Obed, also expressed concern over the issue of lack of electricity and portable water supply in some communities in his constituency,. He disclosed that he has drilled over six hand pumps and solar boreholes across different wards in his constituency. He also revealed that more plans are ahead to alleviate the suffering of his constituents.

“On the power issue, it is an unending issue in Nigeria. It is really unfair to expect an individual to fix that problem. Even the federal government have not been able to fix these problems. However, we are making our little efforts to intervene where necessary. It may interest you to know that I have a motion that will soon be presented on the floor of the National Assembly. The motion is on the need to connect Shongom L.G.A to the National Grid. There is a sub-station that is operational in Billiri L.G.A, so we felt it is important to call on the federal government to connect communities in Shongom local government area to the National grid. However, the lack of power in Shongom is an age long thing so it is unfair if people think I can solve this issue in one year” he said.

 

 

 

 

Emmanuel Ukoh

 

 

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