The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has written to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, alleging that states in the northern region are financially marginalised.
In a letter signed by its national chairman, Audu Ogbeh, ACF lamented that the government’s policy of financial inclusion aimed at the grassroots may not succeed in the north.
Ogbeh said the Microfinance Banks that are looked upon to serve the majority of the people all over the country are not properly positioned to do this in the north.
He condemned the apex bank’s new capital requirement for microfinance banks, saying only 310 of such financial institutions are operational in the north.
The former minister appreciated the apex bank’s contributions towards alleviating poverty and urged Emefiele to consider the forum’s suggestions “in good faith”.
The letter read, “The microfinance banks that are looked upon to serve the majority of the people all over the country are not properly positioned to do this.
“Only one government-owned microfinance which is fairly new in the business is being patronized by CBN to disburse intervention funds, thereby neglecting and denying other duly licensed microfinance Banks across the country the privilege and opportunity to participate in this noble cause.
“This bank enjoys the unfair advantage of cheap government funds while other microfinance banks have to source for expensive funds to compete with the favored bank in the same market.
“The astronomical review of CBN’s new capital requirement will see to the demise of most of the microfinance banks presently operating in the north.
“This development will further exclude a good part of the north from financial services and inclusion, compound the negative effects of the second wave of COVID19, aggravate the poverty level of the north, and weaken the insecurity of the region.”
He also criticised the April 2021 closing date for the recapitalisation of the Microfinance Banks and suggested April 2025.
Ogbeh said shifting the closing date to 2025 will give banks more time to source the funds “needed at this time of economic depression”.