The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says banks have a critical role to play in returning the economy to normalcy as their financial intermediation activities cut across all sectors.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said this in a statement by the apex bank’s acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor on Friday in Abuja.
Emefiele spoke at the 2016 Bankers’ Committee retreat with the theme: “Economic Recovery: The Role of the Banking Sector.’’
He said the intervention policies of the CBN, which were extended to the target populace through banks, made them the ideal partners in the nation’s development agenda.
He said at a critical time in the country’s history, the emphasis on diversification and support for its achievement should be accorded priority by bankers.
The governor reiterated that banks should come up with innovative solutions enable the finance sector to play a key role in driving Nigeria’s growth and development.
Emefiele said that emphasis had been placed on creating an enabling environment for a more diversified growth structure that was not dependent on the sale and production of one produce – crude oil.
He said that the new move dwelt on improving the productivity of farmers, manufacturers and firms, as well as their access to finance, to produce goods and services that could be made in Nigeria.
Emefiele said this would improve job creation and growth for the nation as a whole.
The apex bank chief reiterated that financing of two key sectors was central to the recovery efforts – agriculture and the manufacturing sectors.
He said that the bank was focusing on the two sectors because they were recognised worldwide as catalysts for rapid growth, job creation and poverty reduction.
The CBN governor said that in Nigeria, agriculture was currently the largest employer of labour contributing about 24.2 per cent of its GDP.
“In 2015, we launched the Anchor Borrowers Programme as an innovative way of improving access to finance for farmers and manufacturers.
“To date, CBN has committed close to N23 billion in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme with active participation across 14 states of the federation.
“In Kebbi State, over 78,000 smallholder farmers are now cultivating about 100,000 hectares of rice farms.
“Kebbi State is expected to yield over one million metric tonnes of rice this year alone,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State urged banks to take their roles in the quest to revive the economy seriously.
Represented by the Deputy Gov., Dr Idiat Adebule, Ambode called for a change of orientation and support for policy instruments that were aimed at achieving the overall goal of reviving the economy.
“We must innovate now because there is no option to get out of the recession. We must get it right too.
“The banking sector has a major role to play because the survival of other sectors depends in part on sustainability and vibrancy of banks,” he said.
Ambode also assured that the suggestions of the bankers would be given due consideration by government and its agencies with a view to serve as a guide in policy formulation.