From Gyang Bere, Jos
The Director-General of the Plateau State Microfinance Development Agency (PLASMIDA), Haggai Haruna Gutap, says the State has been defrauded of over N38 billion between 2001 and 2016 as a result of the fraudulent activities of ‘Wanda Bank’.
Gutap disclosed this on Monday during an interaction with a cross section of reporters at his office in Jos.
‘One challenge of the agency is a major threat caused by unregulated agencies that are going about to defraud people, we call them “Wanda Bank”. Over the years when we carried out an assessment of Plateau State, North Central Nigeria and Northern Nigeria at large, we discovered that Plateau State alone was affected immensely by this Wanda Bank, up to a level that we lost from 2001 to 2016 not less than N38 billion, which is huge, and these funds would have been used to develop the economy,’ Gutap explained.
‘But it has been through the private sector regulated body that we discovered that this money has gone down the drain and it has really affected our economy. It has affected the level of jobs to be created, it has affected the confidence of people within the system and it has sent most of our people to their early graves.
‘… We believe that when there are leakages within the system it will become very difficult for you to begin to get to the desired level of development,’ Gutap said.
He lamented that most citizens have a very wrong mindset regarding development:
‘People don’t think about the process that would take them to acquire a sustainable source of livelihood than handouts from government officials…
‘…We believe that with the continuous education and enlightenment we have been giving, it has gone a long way to change the mindset and quite a number of our beneficiaries today have more than the expected number of employees working with them.
‘I know few of them that have up to eight staff, ten staff, who are working for them. Most them are SMEs who are trained by PLASMIDA and formalised their businesses with all the regulatory agencies that are required, and are doing their businesses beyond the shores of Plateau State and also beyond the shores of Nigeria.
‘Some are advertising their products online based on the skills they have gotten from the agency…’
He continued with the following advise:
‘I want to tell the youths of Plateau that for us to move forward we must consistency seek for solutions rather than engaging ourselves in destructive activities. And those that have gotten skills they should apply those and go for constant improvement. Yes, government may have trained you and given you kits but it is left for you to continuously improve yourselves and remain relevant within that sector.
“I can say that without missing any word that in Plateau over the years when we commenced this SMEs award by Federal Government, we have consistently been featured not just as spectators but as beneficiaries of the award from the Federal Government.
‘That is to say that there are a lot of talents in Plateau, and if we will continuously develop ourselves, we engage ourselves constructively, I want to say that Plateau State will become the Industrial Haven of Nigeria; and I also have a strong belief that we can compete globally because of the nature of talents we have.’