Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank has set aside N12 billion to resuscitate moribund industries in the Northeast so as to revive age-long trade between the sub-region and Central and East African countries.
The sub-region is also enlisted to benefit from the N500 billion non-oil stimulation fund presently domiciled in the Central Bank, which is accessible to all prospective manufacturers and exporters in all the 36 states of the country and the FCT and meant to build non-oil exportation in the country.
Also in the pipeline for the people of the troubled Northeast, is N3 billion earmarked by NEXIM Bank for vulnerable women and youth to access as loans for smallholder agribusiness and the processing of goods which would be bought from them by major manufacturers and exporters as off-takers.
Stella Okotete and Bala Bello, Executive Directors in charge of Business Development and Corporate Services of the Bank respectively, led a team from the bank to Maiduguri recently, during which they disclosed the economic plans with the business community in the town.
The executive directors said the resuscitation of moribund industries and building of exportation with the neighbouring countries was to expedite the divestment from oil to non-oil exports as the main revenue earner for the country.
They visited some moribund industries and held separate meetings with the Borno Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA), as well as other exporters and trans-border traders majority of whom have been made bankrupt by almost a decade old Boko Haram insurgency.
According to both Okotete and Bello, the N12 billion loan comprises the N6 billion Northeast Development Fund and at least N1 billion State Development Fund made available to each of the six Northeast states for the purposes of resuscitating local manufacture of goods for exports.
They said to render utmost assistance to the prospective manufacturers and exporters accessing loans from these funds, the interest rate on the loans could be given for as low as 6% or 5% interest rate, although the bank normally charges 9%.
“NEXIM Bank is ready for the business of reviving local manufacture and export,” Okotete said, revealing that “we are giving Borno special focus because it is a border state serving as the commercial hub between Nigeria and the East and Central African countries.”
The two executive directors said the goods for the processing and export of which the loans would be accessible in the Northeast include gum arabic, leather, onions, tomatoes, pepper and ginger.
BOCCIMA appealed to NEXIM Bank to expedite assistance to the local manufacturers and trans-border traders incapacitated by the Boko Haram insurgency to bounce back to business.
The President, Borno Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Ahmed Ashemi, lamented that apart from those that have lost their lives to the Boko Haram crisis, there was no other that have suffered much lost than business men.
He equally said: “Also apart from those in the IDPs camp that depend on stipends to survive, there is no other that needs assistance more than our business men that have been made to lose almost everything.”
He said: “There is little information about the financial opportunities made opened by your bank.
“Your arrangement is on time and at the end of your visit I hope you are going to package and articulate a plan that would be of assistance to our business men.
If you go back, I plead that you repackage a product that will be accessible to illiterate and poor people, for those that have been affected by insurgents but were once rich.”