The Executive governor of Katsina state, Dikko umar Radda
By Ibrahim Kaula Mohammed
Thursday, January 25th, 2024, was historic, significant and unforgettable for the Executive Governor of Katsina State, Malam Dikko Umaru Radda, PhD. And this is for many reasons. Let me point out, right from the onset.
But not for the fact that he won a lottery jackpot. Not for the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was just declaring him the Governor of Katsina, to succeed his predecessor, on that day.
Certainly, not for the fact that he was just clocking 54 years, complemented with national fame and stardom. It was for the singular reality that he was given what can only be termed a grand reception, akin to the one offered to iconic global leaders, presidents and monarchs.
Visiting the corporate headquarters of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, SMEDAN, in Abuja, for the first time since he left there almost two years ago, Governor Radda would not have anticipated it. But an ecstatic management of the agency, led by Mr. Charles Odii, the incumbent Director General of SMEDAN, together with other staff, would not be caught napping.
The SMEDAN boss and his staff, all resplendent in colourful attires, trooped out to receive the Katsina Governor, with his entourage of some top government functionaries, who visited the agency for a special mission.
They gave Radda, who not too long ago piloted the affairs of SMEDAN purposefully, remarkably and exceptionally, a first-rate ‘welcome back’ reception. There was a palpable excitement on the faces of every SMEDAN staff that day.
Having missed him and fondly remembered his good works at SMEDAN, they could not wait to have him around again, even if it is for some few minutes. Governor Radda, who was the longest-serving DG of SMEDAN, was at the agency’s corporate headquarters to sign two Memorandums of Understanding, MoUs.
The first one is an MoU of N1 billion credit facility for small businesses in Katsina. The credit will be offered at a single-digit interest. The loan scheme is phased, with the Katsina State Government and SMEDAN combinely raising the sum of N250 million to be disbursed for Katsina small businesses, in the inaugural phase.
The second MoU was for the Katsina State Enterprises Development Agency, KASEDA, to take ownership of the federal government-owned Industrial Development Centre, IDC, to help nurture Katsina MSMEs, for a period of three years.
While speaking at the event, Governor Radda said returning to the SMEDAN headquarters as a visitor, but not as its Director General, was emotional for him. “The thing is, I feel like going to resume my office, but I know that is not possible. And besides, I am having a more bigger job in Katsina. However, I had a wonderful experience while here,” the governor said.
He noted that Medium and Small Scale Enterprises, MSMEs, worldwide, play a critical role in changing the fortunes of many nations. “Any leader who aspires to transform Nigeria, must not ignore the MSME sector, which contributes about 50 percent to the country’s nominal GDP, while also providing jobs to about 70 percent of citizens,” he said.
He however, expressed displeasure with the fact that SMEDAN, in recent years, has not succeeded in increasing the number of SMEs it is boosting their capacities. “SMEDAN should no longer be talking about empowering just hundreds of thousands of SMES at this time. We should be talking about millions,” he said.
Governor Dikko Radda advised the SMEDAN management to work towards expanding the scope and numbers of Nigerian small businesses who receive their institutional support, particularly monetary funding. As part of tackling poverty, hunger and youth restiveness in Katsina, he said his administration has approved the sum of N3.4bn to enhance the development of MSMEs in the state.
He observed that terrorism, armed banditry and kidnapping, among other violent crimes in the country are fueled by hunger and poverty. According to him, violent crimes in the country can only be tackled by the time idle youths are taken out of the streets, and fully engaged in productive ventures.
Radda also disclosed that two other IDCs will soon be established at Daura and Funtua zones. “As part of our commitment to grow Katsina’s economy, the state government will collaborate with the 34 local governments we have to fund our SMEs with about N3.4 billion.
“Each local government is expected to provide 100 million counterpart funds. We shall thereafter identify 10 to 20 enterprises in each local government, that will get our funding support. The minimum sum we would be giving any business is N2 million, while the maximum is N10 million,” he said. Governor Radda further revealed that his administration will soon embark on building wood and furniture clusters, among other vocational trades development hubs, similar to the ones managed by SMEDAN at its corporate headquarters.
“Our Katsina State Enterprise Development Agency, KASEDA, is currently in the process of selecting small businesses with potential for growth and employing people, in Katsina, to get our support. We plan to give them credits with zero interest rate.
“Equally, in order to boost the capacity of our KASEDA, we shall soon dispatch some of its staff to SMEDAN for them to learn how you are driving Nigeria’s SMEs sector. But again, some SMEDAN staff will also be invited to Katsina and mentor the staff of KASEDA,” he said.
Responding, Odii, expressed delight with the move by the Katsina State Government to partner SMEDAN in advancing the frontiers of Katsina MSME sector. He thanked Governor Radda for the successes he led SMEDAN to record. “I hope to build on the legacies of His Excellency at SMEDAN and in the Nigerian MSME ecosystem,” he said.
Odii, while pledging to consolidate the feats achieved by the Katsina Governor, hoped that Mr. President will allow him to stay long as SMEDAN helmsman, in order for him to beat the record of Governor Radda as the longest-serving DG of the agency.
He said: “Not only did Governor Dikko Radda built this our edifice, he also nurtured a beautiful and caring family at SMEDAN. Because if he didn’t do that, he won’t have gotten the reception he got today from all of us here. And this should make the rest of us worry about the kind of legacies we want to live behind.
“What Governor Radda got today was not bought. It was long nurtured. Do we want to come back to SMEDAN someday, and people are avoiding us, turning off their phones that they are not around, or they don’t want to see us?”
The SMEDAN boss disclosed that the MoUs signed will help to curb social unrest in Katsina, while making sure SMEs in the state have easy access to finance, government support and favourable business environment, among others.
“What we are doing today is democratizing access to finance for small businesses in Katsina, democratizing access to markets for small businesses in Katsina, helping with capacity development of small businesses in Katsina State, and also, helping to reduce a lot of youth unrest in the state,” Odii said.
It is no brainer that the MoUs signed are precursors to the birthing of an economically-advanced Katsina, as envisioned by Governor Dikko Radda. His Excellency, as a pragmatic leader, knows that what holds the ace for Katsina’s prosperity is are enterprising and industrious citizens, together with their small-scale ventures, with potential for boosting the state’s Gross Domestic Products, GDP.
Hence, he has started taking some assiduous steps towards enhancing their fortunes. Sooner than later, the positive results of Governor Radda’s investment in Katsina MSME sector would become manifest, immensely pleasuring everyone.
One one hand, the August reception SMEDAN gave Governor Radda last week, during his homecoming, did not come as a surprise. It was ‘foretold’. For a leader, who bequeathed nothing but an immortal legacies of selfless and examplary service at the agency for six uninterrupted years, what else would have been better?
Kaula Mohammed is the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to Governor Dikko Radda of Katsina State.

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