The President of National Association of Microfinance Banks, NAMB, Mr. Rogers Nwoke, in this interview, highlights the challenge of insecurity to the attainment of the 80 percent financial inclusion goal.
By Providence Emmanuel
HOW is insecurity affecting microfinance business?
It is affecting every aspect of the Nigeria economic life and the MfBs cannot be shielded. If bombs are exploding and herdsmen are shooting, then security of life and properties comes first. The same way every other business is affected MfBs are also affected; so nobody is safe in such an environment. MfBs are also affected too.
Do you think we can achieve 80% financial inclusion by 2020, in view of insecurity in some parts of the country?
Financial inclusion target has been distributed. There is a portion allocated to MfBs, and the financial inclusion secretariat has also allocated even to specific MfBs but the thing is, financial inclusion cannot operate in isolation. When you say North East, you would be wondering if it is just North East. Look at a place like Sokoto that has never had any form of violence; we have never recorded anything of such before.
Sokoto too has been attacked, Zamfara also, we are talking about man-made disaster and we are looking at natural disaster. Look at what flood did in Katsina, so it is a troubled nation and I am not sure that the target we have set took into cognizance or assumptions that any of these things would happen.
The question is, if the people are not at peace and some of these mentioned places are where the financial inclusion figures are very low, would you want to go to a place that you are not sure of your security? You don’t want to do that. The security situation in the country would affect practically every aspect of our economic life. So it is important that the government that is setting these targets should do everything within its power to ensure that there is peace and stability and then all other economic parameters would begin to take its shape.
But in a situation where you don’t know, they tell you to travel to another state, except where there is flight, the only thing you are afraid of is plane crash, otherwise, once you take off, you arrive at the airport. But if you are going to be travelling by road to anywhere from one state to another, you don’t know what lies ahead, except you have confidence and absolute trust in God.
What are the efforts of NAMB towards achieving the target?
If everything is normal and the operating environment is good, then there is no reason why we shouldn’t meet those targets. MfBs have bought Bank Verification Number, BVN machines; mobilised; gotten uniform IT, we are doing quite a lot. The microfinance association has set up a monitoring and evaluation department to ensure that these things are done. But would I be sending my monitoring team to start going to Taraba, when I don’t even know what the roads look like? So I think these are the issues and we need to capture them.