A former governor of Cross River, Mr Donald Duke, has urged the Federal Government to compel banks to reduce the interest rate to the barest minimum to make credit available and affordable for small businesses. Duke made the call at the 5th anniversary of Political Forum G50, with the theme: “Blueprint For Sustainable Economic Development” held on Saturday in Lagos. According to him, the Nigerian banking industry is a major obstacle to sustainable economic development because of about 25 per cent interest being charged on loans to customers.
He said: “If you want to grow an economy, you will have to ensure that credit is available and affordable. “In Nigeria, credit is neither available nor affordable for the average Nigerian to start-up business because of the high-interest rate. “Banks should be compelled to reduce their interest rates to the barest minimum to encourage entrepreneurship in a country where the population is growing at 3.5 per cent while the economy is growing under 2 per cent. “As long as our population is growing faster than the economy is growing, we will remain in a perpetual recession.
” The former governor said Nigeria’s fortune can change for the better if the nation manages revenue gotten from its natural resources effectively. “We spend about N1.5 trillion on subsidies, more than we spend on education, health, and infrastructure. “We subsidise fuel for cars to drive on roads that do not exist. “Gas, which we have in abundance and flare, we sell to domestic users at international price,” Duke added. He charged Nigerians to always seek a peaceful change in governance through the ballot boxes. Duke also urged the government to provide a conducive environment for citizens to undertake legitimate means of livelihoods.
“If we do not create an environment for people to live honestly, then they would start to live in a dishonest manner. “If we continue the way we are, in another 30 years, we will be the third most populated country in the world and probably the most dangerous country,” he said. He said Nigeria’s problem of leadership was self-inflicted “because we are not determined to pick the best amongst us to administer our affairs.” (NAN)
Pix: Donald Duke