President Muhammadu Buhari has charged bankers to play a stronger role in the ongoing efforts to reduce poverty in the country.
The President gave the charge on Tuesday in Abuja while speaking virtually at the opening ceremony of the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.
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He said ongoing efforts to reduce poverty in the country continue to grow, with 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households, comprising more than 8 million individuals currently benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer program, while N300 billion has been disbursed to farmers.
The President said the National Social Register of poor and vulnerable Nigerians had 32.6 million persons from 7 million poor and vulnerable households identified, imploring bankers to play a stronger role in improving livelihoods.
“From this number, 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households, comprising more than 8 million individuals are currently benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer program, which pays a bi-monthly stipend of N10, 000 per household,’’ he said.
President Buhari said the National Social Investment Programme was biggest in Sub-Sahara Africa and one of the largest in the world.
According to him, “Some of the various initiatives embarked upon to boost agric trade in Nigeria include the Anchor Borrowers Programme through which the Central Bank of Nigeria had made more than 300 billion Naira available to over 3.1 million smallholder farmers of 21 different commodities including Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, Cassava, Poultry, Soybeans, Groundnut, Fish, cultivating over 3.8 million hectares of farmland.
“I salute the Institute and the entire banking and finance industry for the commitment towards charting a practical path for economic recovery and transformation of our country, Nigeria, and by extension Africa as epitomized by the theme of your conference.
Also, President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda said exploring new technology in the banking sector, with more focus on innovation, will enhance financial inclusion.
“The banking sector can lead the way in integration. Banking is about trust,’’ he said.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said the regulatory body had been working with the Bankers Committee to scale the challenges posed by COVID-19, which include reduction of interest rates on loans, increasing the moratorium for payments, and injecting N3 trillion loans in the private sector.
“We do expect that the pace of inflation will moderate as we approach the harvest season,’’ he added, assuring that banks remain strong, resilient and healthy.