Lagos eyes N15bn cash inclusion to customers, as Govt launches ‘Eko Token’


By Moses Adeniyi

No less than N15billion is eyed by the Lagos State Government (LASG) for capital inclusion to Lagosians, following the launch of a Universal Patronage Cash Reward system, tagged the “Eko Token” Programme; Nigerian NewsDirect has learnt.

The Universal Patronage Cash Reward system which was launched on Tuesday in partnership with CashToken Africa and Businesses, would offer customers rewards for patronage from businesses enlisted under the scheme.

The new initiative offers instant cash inclusion system and an automatic entry into a weekly consumer draw which would give a chance to win between N5,000 and N100million every Friday night.

According to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the system will be sustainable, given that it is built on mutual benefits between the businesses and the people as facilitated by the EkoToken initiative.

The potential of the Lagos State Universal Patronage Cash Reward, the Eko Token, spanning over a period of five years “is to see to it that an average of 10 percent of consumer expenditure is offered back as rewards to Lagosians in a system that is profitable,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Other benefits expected of the initiative are: increase in patronage of Lagos businesses between five to eight per cent;  creation of about 10,000 direct and indirect job opportunities; and receiving minimum cash reward from participating businesses across multiple industries.

The Token covers, airtime, electricity, transportation, food, insurance, petrol, entertainment, financial services and fast moving commodities, among others.

According to Governor Sanwo-Olu, represented by the State’s Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Mrs. Bolaji Dada, “it is an healthy innovation to complement other initiatives and measures that have been put in place by this administration to  cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on citizens and businesses in the State.

“It is a unique partnership with the private sector that will foster a new era of sustainable tripod relationship among  businesses, government and the good people of Lagos State.”

He added that it would improve the “turnover of businesses and the economic prosperity of the people of the State.”

“Lagos Government is encouraging, championing, and pioneering a new era for development of social smart business order that connects prosperity and successes of the private sector, profitably to direct social impact,” Governor Sanwo-Olu said.

Lagos State Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs. Yetunde Arobieke, assuring the sustainability of the system said the idea is timely for social inclusion and cash transfer to cushion the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

“That is why Mr. Governor has keyed into this (Eko Token Programme), especially to cushion the effects of the pandemic. It’s a beautiful idea; if a Lagosian goes to any store, he can get rewarded. This is why we see it as a good initiative and we have keyed into it.

“Mr. Governor has seen the relevance at a time like this and he has given approval for its implementation. It is sustainable because it’s a way for companies to say thank you to their customers for being part of their successes,” the Commissioner said.

According to her, the idea which has been widely embraced by private companies would in the coming days see over 200 companies further enlisting under the programme.

“That is why most of the mobile networks have keyed into the system as an opportunity to say Thank you to Lagosians,” she said.

On fear of hike in prices of goods, she dispelled such possibility, saying, “there is a modus operandi on ground to ensure the sustainability. It’s not going to inflate any price. We know the prices we buy our things and stores are not to increase those prices. The prices remain the same. That is why we are keying into this, so that all Lagosians can benefit from it.”

Chairman of the event and former Governor of Lagos State,  Otunba Olufemi Pedro, said the development heralds a new era of a strong creative economic alignment between the people and the Government of Lagos State.

According to him, the initiative is a creative system of synergistic endeavor to bring people together and create wealth for them.

He mentioned that the system offers benefits avenue not only for merchants but also a credit mechanism to buyers for a patronage reward.

Describing the system as a network where “all parties are winners” he said, “the business community will sell more,” buyers will be rewarded while “the government will enjoy public positive equity.”

He assured that as a vision which is first of its kind and unprecedented in Africa, the partnership with the business community, coupled with the projected outcome would soon attract bandwagon effects for other parts of Africa to emulate.

He however called on all businesses and Lagosians in the State to join the train, calling on the organisers to invest in promotion and enlightenment to promote large enrollment.

Calling on Lagosians to patronise businesses enlisted as a part of the programme, he disclosed that they stand a chance of reward ranging between N5,000 and 100million from a weekly raffle draw.

CEO, CashToken Africa, Lai Labode, said as “Africa’s first Universal Social Patronage reward system” the technology which has been introduced into the LAGBUS and some mobile networks holds appeals to the senses of the costumers of businesses.

He commended the support of the Government functionaries who have supported with contributions to make the initiative a dream coming through.

Stating that, “there has never been a time a government in Africa came with such idea of social patronage reward system,”, he submitted it is time “all businesses join hands with the Lagos government in the new system for sheer prosperity.”

Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria,  Godfrey Efeurhobo, said the initiative is productive for wealth creation and redistribution, maintaining that Lagosians under the system do not need to do any special task to be rewarded under the system.

According to him, subscribers of Airtel  mobile network can enjoy benefits of the system on every N1,000 recharge to qualify for the Eko reward, which he said is critical to empowering Lagosians towards “the Greater Lagos Dream.”

Director General,  Public Private  Partnership Office, Lagos State, Ope George, said the system represents giving back to the communities and residents, and would be fantastic to “boost economic activities under a win-win situation.”

Chairman, Lagos State Lottery Board, Bashir Are, who described the programme as a social smart initiative, with a cash reward for every purchase made in Lagos, said the programme was seriously scrutinised before licence was issued.

According to him, the initiative is “not a lottery scheme but a reward programme,” which focuses on financial inclusion to bring more people under the system of wealth creation.

He assured Lagosians it is a sustainable and reliable system which involves the contributions and partnership of about 10 MDAs.

In her remarks, Special Adviser to Governor Sanwo-Olu on Sustainable Development Goals and Lagos Investment Office, Solape Hammond, said while social security is a human right, it is not yet a reality, mentioning that only about 45 per cent of the world’s population can boast of same.

She said it was strategic to leverage on such system for an opportunity of a universal patronage return system, as an innovative solution to social security.

The State’s Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Sam Egube, said the system represents economic connectivity among the people, businesses and the government, which he said economically would stand as a  basis for evidence based decisions and interventions in the State and the Country generally.

Conference 57 Secretary, Ajala Rasaq, and Chairman of Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA, Mushin, Lagos, described the initiative as “a creative and innovative system to facilitate wealth and prosperity,” assuring the Chairmen would ensure robust enlightenment and sensitization on the benefits of the system within their respective jurisdictions.

Public Affairs Analyst, Prof. Pat. Utomi, said primarily, capital should be built at home and concentrated, mentioning there needs to be more creative ways to advance capital creation to transform lives.

Utomi who lamented the prevailing economic downturn and Poverty in the Country said, “It is not accepted that Nigeria should become the poverty capital in the world.”

According to him, the Country has the resources to drive a robust economy against the prevailing economic deformities.

Chairman, CashToken Africa, Taiwo Olashore, said given Lagos’ strategic economic position, it is very key to develop creative system on how wealth is redistributed.