Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
Nigeria may not be able to achieve some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) due to some developmental challenges in the country, the Bankers’ Committee has warned.
The committee made up of the Central Bank of Nigeria and chief executive officers of commercial banks, also restated that financial exclusion was high in the North-eastern and North-western regions of the country.
These formed part of the submission of the committee at the end of its retreat in Calabar.
The MDGs are eight international development goals that were officially established in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organisations agreed to achieve these goals by the year 2015. Some of these goals are: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality rates and improving maternal health.
But the bankers stressed the need for the governments to understand the game- changing dynamics that other countries had adopted to transform their economies.
It explained: “There is a strong likelihood of Nigeria missing some of the MDGs due to various developmental challenges. It is important to understand the game- changing dynamics that other countries have adopted to transform their economies.
“Africa requires the right leadership, planning and incentives to drive required economic growth and development; the Bankers’ Committee is adequately placed to shape this growth. Political will and governance are critical requirements for entrepreneurial development and also drive economic growth.”
The committee pointed out that the Sustainability principles that were announced by the banking sector regulator are already being implemented.
The sustainability reporting framework was developed to enable financial institution report their progress on the implementation of the principles and guidelines.
The CBN supervises the implementation of the principles and guidelines by banks, discount houses and others financial institutions. CBN is also expected to institute governance structure to drive compliance with the provisions of the principles and guidelines.
Commenting on the need to drive financial inclusion, it pointed out that a key consideration for the unbanked subscribing to banking services “is the proximity of access points.”
According to the bankers’ committee, the financial inclusion target was to reduce the percentage of unbanked individuals to 20 per cent by 2020.
“Focus of financial inclusion needs to be broader than just a focus on credit, to savings, payment and other financial products. Financial inclusion can facilitate the development of cheaper alternative and electronic channels to serve the unbanked and under-banked population, which reduces the use of cash.
“Geographically, the gender and income level financial inclusion gaps across the country need to be bridged. Relationship improving accesses between deposit money banks, development institutions, other financial institutions and microfinance banks need to be strengthened.
“Financial services products offered to the financially excluded need to be more closely aligned to their needs,” it added.