Abuja, Sept. 5, 2023: Some stakeholders have reiterated the need for the financial sector to make deliberate effort towards increasing its contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
They spoke during the16th Annual Banking and Finance Conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The theme of the Conference is “Nigeria’s Economic Growth and Empowerment: The Role of the Financial Services Industry”.
The event is the largest gathering of banking and finance professionals in Africa.
It is a platform for the stakeholders in the banking and finance ecosystem to come together to drive conversation on topical issues critical to the growth and stability of the country.
This is with a view to providing insightful solutions that will impact the entire system and the economy at large.
The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu challenged the financial sector to move from 3.6 to about nine per cent growth of GDP.
According to Bagudu, this is possible as the financial sector is indeed well placed to contribute to economic growth.
The minister acknowledged the role of the institute , adding, “every stakeholder had a role to play to drive the sector and the nation’s economy.”
He reiterated the present administration’s commitment to ensure its renewed hope agenda for Nigerians was achieved.
Bagudu said: “The reforms are intended, among others, to give the private sector all the necessary confidence to mobilise and invest more resources in the economy.
“We appreciate the contribution of the financial sector but expect more.
“We appreciate that the challenges we are experiencing are those that other countries have experienced and surpassed.
“We are in no doubt that the vision and boldness of our leaders, the renewed hope agenda will be pursued with vigor and Nigeria will have positive remarkable growth in the years ahead.”
For his part, the acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Folashodun Shonubi, said the sector’s economic contribution to the nation was low and needed improvement.
“Can we promise them that instead of 3.6 per cent, we will be contributing a lot more than that. And we will sit down and find what the drivers are that we can influence and do.
“I dont want to put a number in front of us but it is what I will like to see at the end of the conference.
“I don’t think we contribute a lot of ourselves , we as bankers need to be more conscious, a bit more active on advocacies that are actionable,”Shonubi said.
Similarly, the Chairman, Body of Banks’ CEOs, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, urged for a deliberate effort by the stakeholders towards growing the country’s economy.
On balance of payment, he said: “We are importing more than we are exporting and to change the narrative, we need to grow what we consume and export what we consume.
“We have enormous potential, the biggest potential we have is in our market. Our market is depleted by the number of people we have.
“The time has come for our growth to focus on effectively realising the huge potential of our endowment.
“It is imperative therefore for us to encourage growth in our endeavours. Banks also have to be deliberate, determined to execute the mandate of growth in our economy,”Onyeagwu said.
The chairman, who is also the Group Managing Director, Zenith Bank , said his bank had in the last five years come up with an initiative called ‘SME Grow My Business.’
Onyeagwu said: “It is a platform we created to focus on SMEs. It provides an opportunity for us to incubate and nature SMEs and teach them the rudiments of business,” he said.
He urged for more deliberate programmes to support the SMEs as they will help generate employment and also be listed in the capital market, among other advantages.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Capital Market, Sen. Osita Izunaso, pledged the continued support of the National Assembly to CIBN and the country’s financial sector.
Izunaso said: “The challenges before us are enormous, so are the opportunities and to harness these potential requires the collective effort of all stakeholders.”
He urged the participants to remember their responsibilities in ensuring support to the government to address present economic challenges.
The lawmaker decried the non-listing of companies enjoying Nigeria patronage in the country’s capital market, saying,”our national economic growth depends on the financial services.”
According to the President of CIBN, Ken Opara, the theme of the event is very apt as it resonates with the context of our current realities in the country.
“It amplifies the fact that agenda setting for the country must be a continuous exercise, especially now that we have a new government in place.
“The topic also resonates with the current administration’s reforms agenda,”he added.
Opara expressed hope that the reforms, if followed through, would not only unlock the full potentials of the economy but place the nation on a recovery trajectory to drive the prosperity of the continent.
The President said that CIBN would continue to be a vanguard for capacity and skills development in the financial services industry.
He also called for more collaboration of the critical stakeholders to drive the sector.
The conference was attended by CEOs of banks, financial institutions’ representatives , stakeholders and partners in the financial sector.