CBN Engages Ogun Farmers, SME Operators on Financial Inclusion

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In continuation of its enlightenment campaign, aimed at bringing more people into the formal financial sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday held a seminar for farmers and small and medium scale enterprises (SME) operators in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The central bank used the opportunity provided by the financial inclusion fair to educate participants on its numerous real sector intervention programmes.

These programmes, the bank said were geared towards enhancing the wellbeing of Nigerians and promoting economic development in general.

Speaking on the theme of the seminar, ‘Promoting Financial System Stability and Economic Development,’ CBN’s Deputy Director, Consumer Protection Department, Hajia Khadijah Kasim said that the bank took its enlightenment campaign to the ancient city of Abeokuta in order to inform the people about its activities, interventions and recent developments in the financial system.

“We want to interact with you 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.

“You will also be informed about different efforts of the CBN to ensure that every Nigerian is financially included, so that all of us can enjoy enormous opportunities that abound in this space,” she said.

In his welcome address, the Abeokuta branch controller of CBN, Mr. 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.

He said the CBN recognises the importance of the city, and the fact that Abeokuta is home to most prominent Nigerians some of whom are dead and some are still living.

Also, a senior manager in the Development Finance Department of CBN, Dr. Xavier Okon, explained to participants that the central bank helps to solve the problems most businesses face in Nigeria; especially that of long-term financing needs which commercial banks cannot meet because their funds are mainly short term in nature.

According to him, CBN had intervened in agriculture, infrastructure, SMEs sector among others.

Some of the participants who complained about difficulties in accessing loans as well as high cost of borrowing, rising cases of destruction of cultivated farms by herdsmen including other bottlenecks, were told by Okon to avail themselves of the opportunities provided by the CBN’s Anchor borrowers programme, the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF), as well as the Commercial Agriculture Credit scheme which offers some guarantees and an interest rate of 9 percent.

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.

Similarly, Principal Manager, Financial Policy and Regulation Department of the CBN, Mr. Philip Wondi, reminded participants that as beneficiaries of banking services, “we need to familiariseourselves with industry regulations in order to enable us to 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 “your bank.”
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, Mr. Ben Maduagwu, said the message from the central bank was 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 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.