By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, has written to the Central Bank Governor complaining of the exclusion of the Northern Nigeria from critical aspects of the nation’s financial life.
In the letter dated 29th January 2021 and signed by Chief Audu Ogbeh, the former Minister of Agriculture and Chairman of ACF, observed that Northern Nigeria which is the most populous region in the country is “unserved and underserved”.
ACF in the letter, regretted that government’s policy of Financial inclusion targeted at the grassroots who form the critical mass of the people by creating jobs and engaging the youths in gainful entrepreneurship, may not succeed in the north.
He observed that the Microfinance Banks that are looked upon to serve the majority of the people all over the country are not properly positioned to do this.
“Only one government owned Micro Finance which is fairly new in the business is being patronized by CBN to disburse intervention funds, thereby neglecting and denying other dully licensed Microfinance Banks across the country the privilege and opportunity to participate in this noble cause,” the letter stated.
According to him, this bank enjoys the unfair advantage of cheap government funds from the government while other Microfinance Banks have to source for expensive funds to compete with the favoured bank in the same market.
He said for the government’s policy of ‘intervention funds’ to the economically poor and micro, small and medium enterprises in every nook and crannies of this country, particularly the north to be successful, other strong and reliable Microfinance Banks must be involved.
The letter also criticised the CBNs new capital requirement for Microfinance Banks.
According to him “the astronomical review of the CBNs new capital requirement will see to the demise of most of the Microfinance Banks presently operating in the north.
He said only 310 Microfinance Banks are operational in the north and with the new policy, only 15% of them will survive.
This development, he observed ,will further exclude a good part of the north from financial services and inclusion, compound the negative effects of the second wave of COVID19, aggravate the poverty level of the north and weaken the insecurity of the region.
He also criticised the April 2021 closing date for the recapitalisation of the Microfinance Banks and suggested April 2025.
He argued that this will give the banks more time to source for the funds needed at this time of economic depression.
While appreciating the efforts of the CBN in alleviating poverty, Chief Audu Ogbe, urged the CBN Governor to accept the suggestions put to him by the ACF in good faith.