The President of the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM Bank), Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah, has emphasised the need for Nigeria to increase access to credit to the private sector to boost economic activities.
Oramah, made the call in Lagos, at the 2019 Investiture of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), where he was awarded the Honorary Fellowship of the institute alongside other prominent banking professionals. He also urged the CIBN and Nigerian banks to work towards having a strong banking system in the country, stressing that banking was critical to development.
Oramah said: “I want to add my voice in reminding all members of the institute, fellows and everybody, the executive management of the institute, that the work of the institute is very critical to development in Nigeria and by extension Africa. I think because banking is critical for development, unless we have a strong banking sector, we cannot expect to rise above the levels of development that we see today.
“And for Nigeria, there is an urgency. Today, credit to the private sector is less than 20 per cent. In most countries that are developed, credit to the private sector exceeds 100 per cent of their GDP. So why are we not giving credit? The bankers have a role to play in making sure that we grow the number, because unless we improve the numbers, nothing will happen.”
He also charged the institute to extend their outreach to all corners of Nigeria, including to non-bankers, to the entire ecosystem –those who use the services of banks.
The Afreximbank boss equally said the culture of lending and borrowing in Nigeria has to be improved if the country wants to grow the credit and service sector.
However, the Chairman of the occasion and former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, in his remark, canvassed for support to the closure of Nigeria’s land borders to neighboring countries by the federal government.
Anyaoku said: “Perhaps, I should say a very quick one about how to revive our economy from the worrying state in which it is now. I believe that in our present circumstances in this country, the key word in our economic philosophy should simply be inward-looking.
“As we were reminded three days ago (October 23) by Sam Amadi in his back page title in THISDAY Newspaper, the core advocates or practitioners of economic neoliberalism, perhaps better known as the Washington Consensus and the countries of South Asia including China have been able to lift very substantial part of their population from aching poverty to which the majority of our citizens are currently being subjected, by looking inward. And I call the overall policy that helped them achieve this as looking inward.
“That is why we should support our country’s current border closure by President Muhammadu Buhari and his position on home-grown economic policy if it will mean concentration, in a demonstrable manner, on measures for enhancing the country’s development of agriculture and agro industry, and also, for enhancing the country’s manufacturing capacity to be able to serve our internal consumption and export”.