The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has commenced training programmes to prepare Niger Delta youths, including ex-agitators, for loans offered by the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
PAP is facilitating the process through capacity building to help entrepreneurs in the region get the qualifications required to apply for the loans.
The first phase of the training, which had 60 youths in attendance, kicked off in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Monday.
The Interim Administrator, PAP, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd), said 3000 entrepreneurs had opportunities to benefit from the loans to expand their businesses.
He explained that NIRSAL would select 30 youths for the pilot survey of the loan initiative after the training.
Dikio, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Project, Godwin Ekpo, emphasised that PAP was only acting as a guide to give qualified entrepreneurs from the region an opportunity to access the loans.
Dikio told the ex-agitators that the loans were not bazaars and should be paid back when obtained within the terminal period to enable NIRSAL extend the gesture to others.
He explained that the loans offered by NIRSAL were free of collateral with low interests but must be secured by guarantors to facilitate repayments.
He said PAP decided to facilitate because such opportunity was in line with his vision to turn the youths especially the ex-agitators to entrepreneurs.
He said the loans were for those who were already running their businesses to help them expand their ventures in order to generate more jobs for people.
He said: “NIRSAL is supporting the SMEs with soft loans to enable them to expand their businesses. As PAP, our vision is to help our delegates become entrepreneurs and/or employable citizens contributing to the economy. So, we lookout for opportunities where they can access some level of funding to take their businesses to the next level.