President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday commended the Nigerian banks on successfully spreading their tentacles across Africa.
The president also appealed to state governments to simplify the process of land ownership in their domains to enable more Nigerians access bank facilities for affordable homes.
Buhari made the appeal when he received the Governing Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) led by the chairman, Dr Uche Olowu, at the State House, Abuja.
The president expressed concern over challenges such as land and other collateral related issues, hindering the banking industry’s ability to lend to the real sector.
“As a government, we are also facing such challenges as part of our various affordable housing programmes,” he said.
While commending the banking industry for increasing their lending in key job-creating areas such as agriculture in the last four years, the president welcomed the industry ‘a collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria in this regard.
He noted that the partnership had been a “key anchor” to the food security programme of his administration.
“We can only feed ourselves by deploying capital to the right areas. I implore the banking community to keep this trend up, ” he said.
According to the president, the banking sector is critical to the economic development of any society.
Buhari said that he was proud that Nigeria has the most vibrant, creative and innovative banking sector in Africa.
“Nigerian bankers have not only proved themselves in Nigeria alone but across the entire continent and in other parts of the world.
“I am proud when I visit African countries and see posters or branches of Nigerian banks. I will ask all your members to continue to be great ambassadors of Nigeria as you expand within Africa and beyond,” he added.
In his remarks, Olowu expressed gratitude to the president for the plethora of interventions to drive inclusive growth through various initiatives in the country.
He particularly cited such initiatives to include Anchor Borrowers Programme, the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative and diligent progress in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan among others.
Olowu declared the institute’s support for the current policy by the Federal Government to close Nigeria’s land borders.
He said the policy would protect and promote Made-in-Nigeria products as well as prevent the country from being used as a dumpsite for substandard products and other illicit cross border activities.
The institute’s chairman also raised topical issues affecting the Nigerian economy, especially the banking sector.