‘National Integration Needed for Nigeria’s Economic Devt’

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Peter Uzoho

A Professor of Economics and Director, Institute for Development Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Osita Ogbu, has stated that the economic development of Nigeria was depended on a true integration of its component units.

Citing the pace of development in Malaysia, China and the United States of America who have apparently gotten it right in their drive for economic development, Ogbu noted that nations rise and fall not because of oil or other sub-soil assets, but they rise because they have good leaders.

The professor, who is also a former minister of national planning, said in the Nigerian case, such “deliberate construction requires the elevation of citizenship over indigeneship; the promotion of meritocracy; the creation of democratic citizenship with equal rights and justice for all; and the use of creativity and imagination for common purpose irrespective of the source of this creativity.”

Speaking in Lagos, as the guest lecturer at the 2017 annual lecture organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), with the theme: “National Integration, Citizenship and Economic Policy Making,” recently, Ogbu said: “In our case, the recruitment of citizens with emotional attachment into this common political community is an exercise in national integration.

“The creation of this political community that binds through voluntary subscription must occur for economic and social policies to be effective. Unless this is done, we can plan but would be unable to implement as every regime starts the process anew.”

However, he suggested the creation of “a National Integration Commission (NIC) under the presidency that would champion actions and activities that would break the resistance to a true nation-state, overcome the strong bonds of ethnic affiliation and the emergence of a democratic citizenship with full rights wherever they may be.”

Earlier, in his welcome address at the occasion chaired by the President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, President/Chairman in Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, (CIBN), Prof. Segun Ajibola, said the topic of the lecture was aptly timed given the current agitations for sovereign ethnic identities going on in all parts of the country.

Ajibola also explained that the topic of discourse was unique because after several years of experimenting with panel discussions, the Institute reverted to using only the guest lecturer, saying it was to allow the lecturer develop a well-researched paper that would do justice to the topic and have enough time for presentation.

He noted that the imperative of national integration for sustainable growth and development in a highly diverse and dispersed country like Nigeria cannot be overemphasised.

Ajibola added: “There is no gainsaying the fact that national integration and successful policy planning and implementation are inseparable. Indeed, it would be a misnomer to assume that any economic policy would succeed without the awareness of a common identity amongst the citizens while respecting their respective ethnic, cultural, religious and social affiliations.”

Heritage Bank Grows Agent Outlets to 400

Heritage Bank Plc said it recently deepened its retail banking structure by growing its agent banking base to 400 ‘Corner Shops.’

To this end, in line with the financial inclusion strategy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Heritage Bank also announced its launch of agent banking services at the coastal town of Badagry, Lagos State.

The bank inaugurated an agent, Thy Grace, to provide a range of financial services to customers in the neighbourhood of Mowo under the Badagry Local Government.

The CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, explained that the bank has continued to set standard in the launching of ‘Corner Shop’ to cater for the need of traders and artisans at different locations across the country.

According to statement, Sekibo said the shop was aimed at giving the unbanked, especially in the rural areas the opportunity to enjoy financial services without the risk and stress of walking kilometres in order to visit a bank branch.

However, speaking at the commissioning in Badagry, the Zonal Business Coordinator, South-West, South-South, Agent Banking, Heritage Bank, Oluwakemi Adewunmi, described the feat as a major breakthrough that would relieve the people living in the Ikogazebbe community of the stress they hitherto faced in transacting banking services.

She said with the new agent commissioned to represent Heritage Bank in the locality, banking services would no longer constitute a headache, but rather would be stress-free for all categories of bank customers.

According to her, anybody can benefit from the services of the agent whether you are a customer to Heritage Bank or another bank.

With the inclusion of Thy Grace, she said Heritage Bank now boasts of about 400 agents it has established in different parts of the country.

“The level of their loyalty is very high and commendable. Our agents maintain a clean record and they have been effective.”

In his remarks after receiving the Certificate of Authorisation to carry out agent banking on behalf of Heritage Bank, Hunyingan Pius Mifrinso, promoter of Thy Grace, commended the bank for the approval given to him.

“The Ikogazebbe community is about 15km far from Badagry and for anybody to do a small banking transaction; the person has to travel to Badagry town.” Apart from the time usually wasted in doing that, he said transportation cost a minimum of N400.

Agent banking is the delivery of financial services outside conventional bank branches, often using non-bank retail agents and relying on technology, such as card readers, point-of–sale (POS) terminal or mobile phones for real time transaction processing.