Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Thursday, 22nd May, 2014, reiterated the need to capture the huge assets in the extra legal economy in the state into a legal form that the records can be formalised even as he clarified that artisans and all those in the informal sector are also qualified to apply for the State’s Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS).
The Governor who spoke at the 5th Tradesmen and Artisans Week and Graduation ceremony for retrained artisans and traders held at the BlueRoof LTV Complex, Agidingbi added that while the state has tried to capture some of the data of the number of artisans in the state, there are still some whose records the government does not have.
According to the Governor, there is a need to capture the business transactions that such people are involved in, which is estimated in real estate terms to be worth about $45 billion or about N7.2 trillion.
Governor Fashola explained that while some people lament that they are unemployed, the truth about their situation is that they are underemployed because a graduate who is not employed in a formal setting but engaging in hairdressing and hair styling is also earning a living though the state has no full record of such people.
He also said what is instructive about such people is that once they are not captured in the State’s legal data, when the State is planning the provision of amenities and infrastructure, such people cannot be included.
He maintained that the state government needs the records of such people in the extra legal economy because the state can only plan for a particular resident if it can determine where he or she is.
Governor Fashola noted that while it is arguable that there is poverty in the land, the people can indeed overcome it by taking practical steps, adding that poverty for an artisan or tradesman may be principally not due to paucity of funds but about how he or she organizes his business.
Explaining this further, the Governor who sought to know how many of the businesses like carpentry, fashion designing or selling of frozen items can continue to thrive when the owner of the business passes on or become aged, maintained that there is a need to put in place a mechanism to enable the business survive the owner.
Giving insights into what could make the difference between a properly organized business and an improperly organized one, he also sought to know how many of the artisans can proudly take their children along with them to their business places irrespective of the kind of academic qualification that they possess, adding that the way it is structured determines if the children can come in.
He also advised business owners to be ready to accept inputs and suggestions about the business from their children, adding that with the modern knowledge that many of the children are exposed to, they would help such businesses to grow better.
Fashola also said in terms of organization of business, an artisan or tradesman like a fruit seller vulcaniser must decide on if he wants to continue to be by the roadside where unexpected fatalities can occur or think of getting a space in probably a filling station, where customers who have come to buy fuel can easily patronize them in an organized setting.
He informed that the government is committed to taking tradesmen and artisans off the road and that this explains why it is building the enterprise clusters at Gberigbe, Ijanikin and Ibeju Lekki, adding that there is a need for the artisans and tradesmen to take ownership of the zones.
He explained that financial institutions would also be willing to extend financial facilities to the tradesmen and artisans when they have a permanent abode where they do business, unlike the nomadic nature of some of them.
Governor Fashola also informed that the artisans and tradesmen are indeed qualified to also share the benefits of the State Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS) and that many of them are indeed better qualified to pay for the homes with the profits they earn.
He explained that what the State Government is keen on is about getting people who can pay for their homes and that what is simply required of a tradesman or artisan who makes enough profit in a month that could take care of his rent for five to six months to simply deposit same with a bank and give instructions to the bank to remit the money on a monthly basis as at when due.
The Governor emphasized that the houses are for all provided the applicant can afford it, adding that the businesses of artisans and tradesmen are also sufficient to afford the houses just like salary earners.
He also urged the people in the light of the security situation in the country to always be vigilant and conscious of their environment, adding that any unattended items or baggage noticed should be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities.
He urged the people to always make use of the toll free emergency numbers of 112 and 767 to report anything unusual in their immediate environment, adding that the people must also increase their power of observation.
He said people must develop the habit of paying attention to whoever is next to them so that if there is a need to describe such a person in case of unexpected happenings, it would aid security agencies in narrowing down suspects.
Fashola also reiterated his call on every resident of the State to register under the State Residents Registration programme and ensure that they have the registration card which is useful in many respects.
He said for example, a registered resident of the State who is in danger can be identified and offered help as soon as possible unlike what will happen when no records or biometric data of such a person exists with the state government.
Governor Fashola said the partnership of the State Government with the Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisans (LASCOTA) has been productive and also thanked the State Technical and Vocational Educational Board for opening new opportunities to the tradesmen and artisans with the training they have gone through.
He said through the training, the state has provided opportunities for them to learn new things and that the state has also opened access to micro finance for them as they constitute the state’s local investors on whom emphasis must be placed.
He noted that this is the best period for investment in the state and nation as the growth rate is in the region of six to seven percent while in European nations, the best that can be obtained is between 0.5 to two percent.
He said if the tradesmen can inject their new learning in the businesses, the seven to eight percent growth rate can be doubled.
Speaking earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce and Industry, Mr Seye Oladejo, said a total of 5,780 members of different registered associations, made up of 3,780 artisans and 2000 traders from various vocations have been trained to date.
He added that another set of recently trained 2000 tradesmen out of the total trained to date (5780) who have successfully completed an 8-week intensive training programme sponsored by the State Government will be presented with their certificates at the event.
Also speaking, the President of the Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisans (LASCOTA), Chief Bola Sanusi expressed the Council’s appreciation to the State Government for the regular training and retraining of artisans and traders totaling 5780 till date.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of the State’s Technical and Vocational Educational Board (LASTVEB), Engineer Olawunmi Gasper had presented the trainees, explaining that they went through 120 hours of knowledge and skills training.
He appealed to the State Government to continue the training programme, informing that more trade associations have emerged and are yearning for support.
The Governor later presented certificates to the best trainee in each of the five training centres and tradesmen and associations who have distinguished themselves including Alhaja Mosunmola Makanjuola of Fruit Sellers Association for Certificate in Leadership, Alhaji Wahab Omotayo of Scale Frozen Food Dealers Association of Nigeria for Life Achievement Award 2014 and Competency Certificate to Musediq Fatunbi.
Prominent among those at the well attended event were some members of the State Executive Council including the Secretary to the State Government, Dr (Mrs) Idiat Adebule; Chairman of the State House of Assembly Committee on Commerce and Industry, Hon Bisi Yusuff; and several thousands of tradesmen and artisans who were clad in their identical ceremonial wears.