What is happening to Delta state micro, small and medium enterprises? It was formerly Delta state micro credit programme during the administration of former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. Then, it was bubbling in the state. Everyone knew that the agency was working as it was very active. It was heavily supported by the government and the woman at the centre of administration, Dr. Antonia Ashiedu, was on her toes to make the people of Delta feel the impact of the micro-credit programme.
The programme won beautiful recognition and laurels for the government of Delta state. It was known in all parts of Delta state and the nation as a whole. Women and youths across the state felt the impact and were assisted to move their businesses forward and they were all happy. Small businesses were supported with loans in clusters of 10 and they were assisted to grow and make money to fend for their homes.
Women in all kinds of businesses were heavily supported. It was one of the government initiatives then that was removed from politics. It was direct dealing with the office. Ashiedu then never gave opportunity for anyone to hijack the programme as she travelled to different places in the state to attend to the needs of the people. There is no part of Delta state she never visited while she was in charge. Dr. Antonia Ashiedu actually made significant impact in the life of Delta women.
Some of the women were making products for export. Different kinds of products were all over the place, in Warri, Ughelli, Issele Uku,Kwale, Bomadi, Koko and many other places. She was instrumental to the construction of the leather factory at Issele Uku which seems to have been abandoned by the present administration.
At the twilight of the former administration, the former governor made the state house of assembly to pass a law making it an established government agency. This was done in October 2014. This was so because many Deltans were afraid of what would become of it at the end of that government. So,the government put all machineries in place to make sure the agency does not collapse. But since this administration came on board, the fun fare is no longer there.
We are no more hearing about that agency as when it was started by the former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. In the administration of the former governor, it was one of the biggest investments then in the life of the people of Delta state. But now, it seems to be running on a very low key. Most Deltans are no more aware of its existence in the state. The benefits derivable from it then are no more. It seems to have waned and its impact is no longer as the beginning.
What may have gone wrong? Is it the problem of funding from the new administration? Is it the management or put it right is it the person heading the agency that is not pulling weight as it was then? Or is it that business is going on as usual but the authorities there are not interested in publicity? If the authority is not interested in publicity, is that to the benefit of the governor? Or is it just there in name but in action, it has passed on? These and others are numerous questions the new management of the agency led by Orezi Esievo should answer.
During the past administration, funding was not the problem of the agency. The government was pushing funds to it so as to meet the needs of the people of Delta state. More than 111,312people in Delta state benefited from the programme from 2007 till 2013. But for now, it is unfortunate that we are not aware of how many persons have benefited in any way from the agency.
Some people will say go to the agency and see what they are doing, we don’t need go to the agency and see what they are doing. In the former administration, it was the talk in every part of the state. We even learnt that some members of the then state executive council were complaining that the publicity from that office was overshadowing what the ministries were doing. Deltans were not going to them to know what was going on, everybody was hearing and seeing them every where. The new management must wake up to the responsibility of putting that agency in order.