From Uche Usim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday urged members of the banking and finance ecosystem to collaborate towards making Nigeria one of the leading economies of the world.
He stated this in Abuja at the 14th Banking and Finance Conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN themed: Economic Recovery, Inclusion and Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance.
President Buhari commended the Nigerian financial services industry for working assiduously to achieve financial inclusion targets and fostering economic growth of the country.
He urged speakers at the event to share insights that will help reposition Nigeria economically and otherwise.
He described the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic as a game changer that altered the way of life across the globe, urging financial experts and other key stakeholders in the country to latch on the opportunities provided by ICT to drive growth.
He hailed current economic rejuvenation efforts by various umpires and called for the tempo to be sustained.
In his remarks, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Chief Host, Mr Godwin Emefiele stated that CIBN has been a strong supporter of CBN’s policies and programmes.
He described the theme of the conference as apt, given the unprecedented events of 2020, especially when considered along the measures put in place by policy makers to reverse a significant downturn in economic activities last year.
He revealed that the CBN will, in the next 12 months, establish the Nigerian International Financial Centre (NIFC) to consolidate the growth and resilience of Nigerian banks in the last decade.
He said the NIFC will act as an international gateway for capital and investments, driven by technology and payment system infrastructure.
“This new financial hub, will curate local and international banks to make them global champions. The NIFC will be a 24/7 Financial centre that will complement London, New York and Singapore financial centers and enable an acceleration of our home grown initiatives such as the Infracorp plc, the N15 Trillion infrastructure fund which we will be launching in October 2021.
“The NIFC will also complement our initiatives on the Nigerian Commodity exchange and the National Theatre creative hubs for our youths as well as the E-naira project which will also debut in October 2021. The NIFC will take advantage of our existing laws such as the BOFIA 2020, NEPZA and other CBN regulations to create a fully global investment and financial hub where monies, ideas, and technology will move freely without hindrance”, Emefiele explained.
To prevent an economic crisis occasioned by COVID-19 from spilling into a financial crisis, Emefiele said the CBN worked to protect the interest of depositors by ensuring that banks made adequate capital provisions to cover for unexpected losses.
“We also enabled banks to restructure loans granted to individuals and businesses significantly affected by the pandemic. Our banks also demonstrated exceptional resilience by putting in place business continuity plans, along with the deployment of digital channels, which ensured that the provision of financial services to customers was not disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are delighted that these measures have paid off. Indeed, key indicators in the banking sector continue to reflect that our banking sector remains strong, resilient, and healthy. Capital Adequacy Ratio and Liquidity Ratio in the banking sector have remained above the prudential limits at 15.5 and 41.3 percent, respectively. The Non-Performing Loan Ratio of the Banking Industry in July 2021 stood at 5.4 percent reflecting continued improvements from 6 percent in September 2020. Our banking sector remains well positioned to support the recovery efforts of the fiscal and monetary authorities”, he noted.In his goodwill message, the President of Rwanda, Mr Paul Kagame urged the banking sector to live about board to retain their integrity; while working to build a more resilient economy for Africa.
Also speaking at the event, Dr Bayo Olugbemi, President and Chairman of Council, CIBN, said that the conference offers members of the financial sector q robust room to brainstorm and forge way forward for the country.
He revealed that the 14th edition has 10,000 participants across global spread and aims to seek ways of moving Nigeria and Africa’s economy forward.
He added that two-day event will drive financial inclusion.
“We have to unleash the potential of the Nigerian economy. We’re poised to develop the members of CIBN and pressed to uphold ethos of the job to get value creation. “Special focus is on youths considering the importance of their demography. They are here in large numbers. There are macroeconomic issues that need to be tackled. There is work to be done in meeting the financial inclusion target, women empowerment and more”, he explained.