The senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Tokunbo Abiru has unveiled scholarship and COVID-19 relief programmes to support indigent tertiary students and vulnerable persons during the trying times.

Abiru, a former Executive Director, First Bank and the immediate past Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Bank, has disclosed an interest-free credit scheme conceived to support petty traders and skill acquisition and development programme designed to empower the youths in the senatorial district.

He unveiled these programmes in separate meetings he held with the chairmen of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 16 local councils and captains of the Tokunbo Abiru Constituency Team (TACT) in Ikorodu on Saturday

At the meetings, Abiru reeled out endowment and empowerment programmes, which he promised the constituents to initiate and implement before the end of the 2021 first quarter provided he won the December 5, 2020 senatorial by election in Lagos East.

He acknowledged that COVID-19 “has affected virtually every household economically. That is why we come up with COVID-19 relief programme. At this trying time, we need to support vulnerable persons in the senatorial district.”

He disclosed that about 2,880 constituents “will benefit from the programme every other month. Under the first category, party leaders at the council and ward levels will come submit names of 10 vulnerable persons in their territories. There are 98 wards in these councils.”

“We will support at least 10 vulnerable constituents in each of the 98 wards in Lagos East with a sum of N5, 000.00 each. At least, 980 persons will benefit from this programme every other month,” the senator explained.

Under the second category, the lawmaker disclosed that another set of 980 vulnerable constituents “will also benefit from the COVID-19 relief programme. The ambassadors, captains and secretaries of TACT across 98 wards will nominate the beneficiaries in line with requirements.”

Under the third category, Abiru disclosed that five apex leaders from LGAs “will each nominate 10 vulnerable constituents. Seven members of Governance Advisory Council (GAC) will each nominate 10 persons. About 30 traditional rulers will also submit names of 10 persons each.

Still in the third category, Abiru disclosed that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) would make 160 nominations while the league of imams will submit recommend 160 vulnerable persons across the senatorial district, noting that about 920 persons would benefit.

He explained that the programme “purely focuses on the vulnerable persons – aged, persons with speeds or widows. We will work out an arrangement with a bank that will credits the bank accounts of all beneficiaries every other month. We will start implementation this month unfailingly.”

Besides the relief programme, the lawmaker introduced interest-free loans for petty traders, who according to him, were facing the challenges of raising start-up seeds or working capital for their trade or businesses.

He explained that the focus “will be on petty traders alone with emphasis on women. Some of these traders do not have access to working capital. Others even get goods on credits and sell them before they can pay back.

“We will majorly target petty traders, who are in dire need of about N10, 000.00 or N20, 000.00 they can use to start up a petty trade or boost their business. Under this scheme, we will give them credits without interests. But they must pay back so that we will be able to lend to other constituents, who are in need.”

He equally disclosed his skill acquisition and development programme, which according to him, would come on stream before the end of the 2021 first quarter and with focus on the youths that were looking such opportunity.

He said: “We are adopting an entirely different approach to avoid a situation whereby the beneficiaries will sell equipment or tools provided for them. We will not just procure equipment for the constituents, but will train them for periods between six months and one year.

“We will identify vocational centres we can partner with. We will also sign agreement with the identified centres to train our youths, who indicate interest in the vocations of their choices. Once they are able to complete their vocations, we will support them with equipment and possibly start-up capital.”

The senator, also, disclosed that he had worked out scholarship scheme for indigent students in the senatorial district with an emphasis that only students in tertiary institutions would benefit from the scholarship scheme.

He added that beneficiaries of the scheme “must come from each LGA to ensure every local council benefits from the scheme. The scheme is not all about paying tuition fees and giving beneficiaries stipends monthly.

“Rather, it is about mentoring all the beneficiaries. It is all about preparing them to get jobs of their dream. It is also about putting them on guidance lines so that they can develop enviable career,” Abiru said.

Before unveiling the programmes, the lawmaker commended the party leaders, campaign captains and secretaries for the roles they played during the December 5, 2020 senatorial bye-election in Lagos East.

Abiru acknowledged that the last electioneering campaigns taught him that it was more difficult to contest bye-election than the general election, citing an unprecedented degree of apathy that characterised the entire process.

Of about 1.3 million registered voters in the senatorial district, Abiru said the turnout “is very low. We had only 8% of the registered voters. We did well by the records of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“INEC put turnout in typical bye-elections at 4%. By implication, we had good turnout. We also polled about 88% of the total votes,” the lawmaker said.

He, therefore, urged the party leaders at the grassroots “not to relax because the APC won election. We must keep creating more awareness for the APC, especially during this membership registration/revalidation exercise which starts on Monday.”

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