From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has backed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the digital financial inclusion drive for women and youths in the state.
The apex had identified Bayelsa among one of the states with a high population of vulnerable financially excluded women and youths.
At the launching of the policy in Kaiama, headquarters of Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Council of Bayelsa State, the CBN explained that the policy was designed to ensure more women and youths are captured in the financial safety net in the state.
According to the apex bank, the drive is expected to, among other things, improve saving culture, improve livelihood, improve financial literacy, economic empowerment, financial independence and build awareness on the benefits of the use of digital financial services and contribute to increasing in access for rural women and youth across the country leveraging digital platforms.
The Director, Development Finances, CBN, Yusuf Philip Yila, pointed out that the launch of the digital inclusion policy in Kaiama town and other parts of Bayelsa State will resolve issues of the lack of access to Agric loans by farmers in the state due to the non-availability of Bank Verification Number (BVN).
Yila, who was represented by Mrs Augustina Osuya, said the financial inclusion policy will assist those without access to empowerment policies being implemented by the CBN.
‘It will give the opportunity to those without BVN to the bank and assist farmers to access loans. It will allow all financial institutions in the state to bring in those secluded in the state,’ he said.
In his remarks, Governor Douye Diri said the state government is desirous for women and youths in the state to take advantage of the CBN policy so as to be able to benefit from the various empowerment schemes on offer by the state government and the CBN.
Governor Diri who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, General Services, Mr Ikpoho Anthony Howells noted that the state government is in support of the policy because it is a deliberate one initiated by the CBN to encourage the participation of rural dwellers, market women and youths in digital banking and empowerment programmes at the state and federal levels.
‘The Bayelsa State government has set up a number of empowerment programmes. A number of these programmes are in partnership with the CBN in conjunction with other financial institutions and some are entirely that of the state government. To benefit from these programmes, you need a bank account. If you can have a phone then you must have a bank account. The idea is for market women selling plantain, fish, etc to be financially included in all empowerment schemes. We should all be agents of financial inclusion. If you do not have a bank account, you are financially excluded. There are a lot of federal and state government empowerment programmes which you would be excluded from if you do not have a bank account. The message today is that everyone should have a bank account,’ he said