Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has challenged banks in Nigeria to create wealth rather than concentrate on acceptance of deposits.
Umahi made the call during an interactive meeting with the Financial Inclusion Strategy Implementation team of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the Government House, Abakaliki on Thursday.
The Governor, who was visibly unhappy over the bottlenecks and attitudes of some banks towards granting loans to farmers called on the CBN to assist Ebonyi State attain its agricultural potential.
“We will not welcome you again unless you take positive steps to help our state. This state is not wealthy in spite of the fact that we were the first to give palm and cement to the country. But now, how many federal projects are on-going in this state? So, you have to help us,” he said in a statement on Friday by his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Anya.
He added, “Banks generally have degenerated to the issue of depositing money. Banks are not creating wealth in Nigeria. Can’t banks come out with programmes that create wealth amongst the people? Let me give you an example, a bank can say, ‘give me 13 people from Ebonyi State that we can take to China to learn how to make shoes and clothes. When such people return, you can then give them N5 million each to buy equipment and start production. Such people can start paying back with time but regrettably, banks are not doing so. They are not creating wealth in Nigeria. They are chasing deposits.”
Umahi said it was time for banks to start investing in people and help governments to tap their natural resources.
“We must invest in our people. Look at solid minerals scattered everywhere in Ebonyi State. We are sitting on money and banks have to come and help us exploit our God-given resources.”
Earlier in her remarks, the CBN branch Controller in the state, Mrs. Obiekwe Obiageli, said they were in the state to enlighten the government on the National Financial Inclusion Implementation Strategy.
She commended Umahi for being a pacesetter in agric business in Nigeria, stressing that their visit was centered on how to make farmers in the state benefit from the bank’s agric interventions.
The highpoint of the visit was the presentation of the National Financial Inclusion Implementation Strategy to the governor by the CBN team.