In a bid to reduce rising unemployment rate in the state and curb youth restiveness, the Ebonyi State government says it has earmarked N600 million to be given to 2400 youths in the state to start new businesses.
Already over 5000 persons have collected the forms for the scheme.
The programme is in line with the campaign promises of the state governor David Umahi.
Commissioner for Economic Empowerment and job creation, Sabinus Nwankwegu, stated this in Abakaliki, the state capital.
He said the ongoing exercise to select those to be empowered is cost free for applicants and would be done with high level of transparency.
He debunked rumours that the names of people to be empowered had already been compiled despite asking the general public to apply.
Mr. Nwankwegu urged the public to disregard the rumour as it was baseless and untrue, stating that the state governor, David Umahi, had strictly ordered him to give all applicants equal playing field.
The commissioner, who said over 500,000 persons had applied within the first six days since the exercise started,noted that the ministry decided to group the exercise into zones to avoid stampede.
He said six persons would be selected from each ward with respect to gender equality and applicants would be screened and those qualified selected without favoritism.
Mr. Nwankwegu, who said the exercise was for everybody without educational barrier, noted that the only gateway was the applicant’s ability to present a convincing business proposal.
He explained that those selected would be given N250,000 to start their preferred businesses, but would be required to sign Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with the state government.
He added that the government would supervise the beneficiaries to ensure judicious utilization of the fund and those who performed well after one year would be given additional money to add to their businesses,stating that “the governor’s intention is to raise millionaires”.
He assured that the government would force those who fail to utilize theirs to pay back as it would not encourage wastes.
He urged the applicants not to give gratification to anyone to be selected, just as he warned staff of the ministry not to collect bribe from applicants with a promise of including their names as anyone found doing that would be severely punished.