Mimiko defends Mare festival
AS part of activities to mark this year’s Ondo Artisan’s Day event, the state government has planned to distribute N600 million to various traders and artisans groups to promote industry and entrepreneurship among them.
Meanwhile, Governor Olusegun Mimiko has said that his administration celebrates the Mare festival annually to showcase the Idanre hills to international tourists with the ultimate aim of attracting direct investments.
The loan for artisans which was drawn from the pool of money in the state’s partnership with the National Economic Reconstruction Funds (NERFUND), would be handed over to beneficiaries next Thursday when the week-long activities would reach a climax.
The collaboration with NERFUND, according to the Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, Taye Akinyele who disclosed the programme at a press parley in Akure yesterday, “was arrived at because of the desire of Mimiko to drive the local economy through activities of the small scale entrepreneurs.”
According to Akinyele, “the state went into partnership with NERFUND with a view to mobilising funds for empowerment of small and medium scale enterprises. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was subsequently signed between the state and the federal agency to raise a sum of N1 billion for this purpose.
“The state was to contribute the sum of N400 million while NERFUND was to contribute N600 million. The state has already contribute N200 million as part of our counterpart payment while NERFUND has put down N500 million from its contribution.”
Akinyele, who said the loan disbursement would be done indiscriminately to all deserving beneficiaries, added that the aim of government was to encourage small scale industrialists to employ people to reduce the rate of youth unemployment.
Mimiko spoke on the Mare festival on Saturday night at the grand finale of the three-day annual fiesta that attracted about 11 foreign mountain climbers, top rated Nigerian music stars, and spectators across the state.
He told the elated and jubilant crowd that his government would ensure that the Idanre hills are listed by UNESCO as one of the World’s Heritage sites.
He said the world body had already approved the Idanre Hills nomination dossier and had dispatched independent inspectors to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the facilities at the site as contained in the dossier.
The governor said the current investment by his government to organise the annual festival was necessary in view of the fact that the event had already drawn global attention to Idanre.
By Niyi Bello, Akure