Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Thursday gave out money to 48 businesses whose shops were looted following the October #EndSARS protest in Ilorin, the state capital.
The government had in November engaged an independent insurance adjuster and empanelled an 11-person committee, including civic groups and representative of the business owners, to fact-check claims submitted by 342 businesses who filled an online form to benefit from a N500 million SME Recovery Fund establish to support the victims.
Of the 342 firms who registered, only 64 turned up for verification, out of whom the committee established 48 for compensation, while eight injured vigilantes manning the looted Cargo Terminal were also captured for some support.
The Governor presented cheques to all the affected businesses on Wednesday in Ilorin, with the highest beneficiary getting a grant of N17 million, the middle earner getting N15 million, and the lowest getting N100,000 as recommended by the adjuster and the committee.
The total grants awarded stood at N180,775,000 in line with the recommendations of the committee.
“We really sympathise with you and we regret that such a thing ever happened to businesses. We do not have the capacity to give you everything you have lost but this is our token of support to encourage you not to give up,” AbdulRazaq remarked just before handing them their cheques.
He said the government was always willing to help businesses to grow as part of its efforts to build an economy outside of the civil service that is currently the biggest labour demographics in the state.
“The trouble emanating from #EndSARS incident has come to pass but it left a lot of victims behind and you are some of the victims. It is not your fault that your businesses were damaged but as an entrepreneur, we believe in what you are doing,” he said, adding: “We want to turn Kwara from being civil service state to be an enterprising state and entrepreneur like you must be encouraged.
“We want more people to do what you are doing and if we give you the confidence to stay and rebuild your businesses in Kwara, more people would be encouraged.
“You are pathfinders, you are setting pace and showing the ways to others who want to achieve in life.
“Government cannot provide all the jobs but it should be providing the right atmosphere for ease of doing business.
“That is why we feel very strongly about encouraging you to achieve what you need to do. So, those of you that have started repositioning yourselves, we wish you well and thank you.”
The Deputy Governor and Chairman State SME Recovery Fund, Kayode Alabi, who was represented by the Acting General Manager, Kwara State Social Investment Programme, Mohammed Brimah, said the occasion was in fulfilment of the government’s pledge to support affected business operators.
Alabi said: “Let me congratulate Your Excellency and the entire citizens of Kwara State for this laudable feat by taking the bold step to reduce the suffering of the affected shop owners occasioned by #EndSARS protest.
“This is in line with avowed commitment of the present administration to create enabling environment and eliminate all forms of constraints especially the SMEs in the state.”
Alabi said the step of the government will help to boost public confidence in the administration.