Financial Inclusion project got added boost on Tuesday, as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), engaged Ogun State farmers and Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) operators in a seminar, in Abeokuta.
The move was in continuation of CBN’s enlightenment campaign aimed at bringing more people into the formal financial sector, as well as using the opportunity to educate participants on its various real sector intervention programmes.
Speaking on the theme of the seminar, “Promoting Financial System Stability and Economic Development,” CBN’s Deputy Director, Consumer Protection Department, Khadijah Kasim, said the bank took its enlightenment campaign to the ancient city of Abeokuta as part of efforts to interact with the entrepreneurs one-on-one.
“The bank’s officials are here to talk to you about rights and responsibilities of bank customers, how we can lodge complaints to CBN if we have issues with our financial service providers.”
The Abeokuta Branch Controller of CBN, Babatunde Amao, called on the farmers and SME operators to make constructive criticisms and suggestions that could serve as useful contributions towards pulling the country out of recession.
Also, a Senior Manager in the Development Finance Department of CBN, Dr. Xavier Okon, told participants that the apex bank has been helping to solve the problems most businesses face, especially that of long-term financing needs, which commercial banks cannot meet due to short term nature of their funds.
For difficulties in accessing loans as well as high cost of borrowing, rising cases of destruction of cultivated farms by herdsmen including other bottlenecks, Okon advised them to make use of the opportunities provided by the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme.
He also told them to tap into the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF), as well as the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, which offer guarantees and an interest rate of nine per cent.
While assuring participants that the federal government is addressing the issue of herdsmen, he also advised participants to approach any bank and demand for loan as a right from any of the CBN intervention funds as long as they fulfill the conditions and it will be given to them.
The Principal Manager, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, CBN, Philip Wondi, also reminded participants that as beneficiaries of banking services, they need to familiarise selves with industry regulations to enable them enjoy banking services to the fullest.
He noted that every bank customer should know that he or she has the right to get complete information from the bank, as the customer has the right to choose from a range of products, right to redress, good service, right to safety, privacy and confidentiality among others.
On his part, the Assistant Director, Currency Department of the CBN, Ben Maduagwu, said that the message from the apex bank is clear: “Every person should respect the naira because it costs so much to print a single note. The Nigerian Police Force and other agencies, traders, businessmen and women, clerics and everyone should have a wallet where they put currencies.”
According to Maduagwu, putting the notes in a wallet, saying no to squeezing and spraying of money at parties will go a long way in helping the local currency last long, and save the nation the cost of printing new notes regularly.