Nigeria – Lagos State Ministry of Home Affairs has disclosed that it has registered a total of 400 money lenders across the State in the last two years, just as it confirmed the receipt of 74 applications for naturalisation on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Home Affairs within the same period.
The State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, who disclosed this at the ongoing Y2021 Ministerial Press Briefing to commemorate the second year in office of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, Ikeja on Sunday, added that out of the 74 applications for naturalisation received, 35 have been screened and recommended to the Federal Ministry of Interior for approval.
He explained that the Ministry is also in talks with foreign business owners, who intend to acquire the Nigeria citizenship via naturalisation and/or special immigrant status, saying that with the ongoing engagement, Nigeria, especially Lagos State, stands to benefit foreign Direct Investment while the immigrant business owners also benefit by growing their businesses in one of the biggest markets in the world.
On the registered 400 money lenders in the State, the Commissioner stated that the Ministry of Home Affairs is in partnership with the Moneylenders sector in a way that the organisations are mandated to register with the Ministry for the coordination of their activities.
In his words: “The Ministry registers, profiles and monitors the viability of such companies in ensuring that while the money lenders are in business, the general public is also protected from scammers and people of questionable character, while also regulating activities of the companies”.
This partnership, according to him, has greatly assisted small scale business owners in Lagos to keep their petty businesses afloat without having to contend with high interest rates of the big banks. He added that this activity has contributed to the micro-economic growth of businesses in the State.
In the same vein, the Commissioner informed that the Ministry is presently in the process of imputing data of every worship centre located in the State on a centralised database to allow the State Government have reliable data of churches, mosques and their locations with a view to carrying them along in State Government policies.
Elegushi expressed hope that the policy, because of the inherent effective resource allocation and efficient management, will bring about extended benefits to many more churches and mosques in the State, saying that at present, the website designed for the enumeration has over 10,000 details of both Muslim and Christian Religious Organisations across the State.
The Commissioner also reported on the state of religious harmony and peaceful coexistence of people belonging to the two major religions in the State.
He said, “We pride ourselves in saying that what divides and creates security breach in other parts of the country are what unites us in Lagos, bearing in mind that the State has become a home to people from across Nigeria and beyond”.
“I am happy to report to you gentlemen of the Press that in the last two years, the State has enjoyed tremendous religious harmony and peaceful co-existence, through one of the critical functions of our Ministry which is facilitating, maintaining and enhancing harmonious relations among faith-based groups and organisations in the State”.
Elegushi added that the feat was achieved through regular, vigorous and consistent engagements and discussions with religious leaders in the State under the umbrella of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC).
While giving the accounts of stewardship of both the Muslim and Christian Pilgrims Welfare Boards, the Commissioner disclosed that the Ministry went the extra length to partner with the Ministry of Health in ensuring a seamless vaccination exercise for all intending Pilgrims.
“As part of measures to ensure a successful pilgrimage exercise, intending pilgrims were screened both administratively and medically. Over 2,500 intending Pilgrims were vaccinated with the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine between Saturday, 27th and Sunday, 28th March 2021, by the Christian and Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health. This was in fulfilment of the requirements for gaining entry into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the performance Hajj and Jerusalem Pilgrimages”, he stated.
On the readiness for Y2021 Pilgrimage exercise by intending Christian pilgrims, Elegushi informed that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry led a six-man delegation to Jordan, ahead of the proposed May 2021 Pilgrimage, to ascertain the preparedness of pilgrimage handlers and to also have a better and clearer view of historical sites in Jordan.
The Commissioner pointed out that more improvements on the activities of the Ministry will be implemented, while deploying new methods of delivering excellent service to residents of the State in the areas of its ministerial mandates.