PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has commended Ecobank Nigeria Limited for its various initiatives targeted at promoting financial inclusion in the country, noting that it is key to the government’s diversification agenda. Buhari spoke when he had audience with the Board of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) in his office at the State House, Abuja.
According to Buhari, the pan Africa bank’s support for agriculture and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sectors will generate economic activities across the country. He urged the bank to institute a special fund to develop agriculture, which will cement its legacy as a bank that helped to transform and boost regional economic activities.
Responding, Ecobank Group Chairman, Emmanuel Ikazoboh who had in his delegation, the Group Chief Executive Officer, ETI, Ade Ayeyemi and Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, stated that the bank was according high priority to the SME sub sector, stating: “We’ve improved the capital of Ecobank in Nigeria. In the last six months, we have brought in about $150 million all to drive borrowings and supporting the small and medium enterprises.”
Speaking to State House Correspondents on the challenges they want the President to intervene in, the bank chief said: “Well in our speech, we have told him some of the challenges Nigeria and Africa are facing. Like I said earlier on, if Nigeria is sorted out, Africa is sorted out, and some of these challenges are infrastructure, of which they are working on assiduously. Also we are talking about the Seme road because of West African trade route which we think should be given some priority. And to thank him also for the steps he is taking to clear the Apapa Port because that is where trade is coming into Nigeria.”
The bank chief added: “The major problems confronting the banks today are the debtors. We have a number of debtors both corporate and individuals, and we need to put in place a framework to ensure that people do not just take loan and not pay pack. Banks are under pressure because if you have a lot of unpaid loans, it means you don’t have enough money to also support other borrowings or other small and medium enterprises.”