Following the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) complaint of the low data of Ebonyi State in opening bank accounts, Ebonyi State government on Monday approved a total sum of N64m to rural farmers across the State to assist them open and own bank accounts.
Governor of the state, Engr. David Umahi gave the approval at Onueke, Ezza South during the official flag-off of the Account Opening Week (AOW) of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
According to him, the amount would be given to the rural farmers through the 64 Development Centre Coordinators at the rate of N1million per DC, targeting 1000 farmers from each DC.
He explained that the State is targeting about Eighty thousand new Accounts within the Month of December so that the rural farmers will have access to federal government intervention scheme such as soft loan.
He urged the Central Bank to compel Commercial Banks in the State to move to the hinterlands and give them access to banking. That state government would install security gadgets such as CCTV before they commence services.
He maintained that the key priority of his government was to lift the economic standards of Ebonyi people and thanked the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele for all interventions so far granted the State in Agriculture and other economic Opportunities.
Umahi who noted that Nigeria should not be a dumping ground for importers, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for closing the country’s borders as the State had also experienced smuggling of poisons in the name of Foreign rice.
He said, “Each Coordinator is going to have about 1000 of the farmers, those who have not opened account from the rural areas.”
“We are going to offer them N1000 each to open Bank account, starting from tomorrow. You don’t know what the N1000 mean to a mother in the village.”
“We will definitely have more than 80,000 new accounts within the month of December. That is the target.”
“We will work to ensure that before any bank qualifies to operate in the State, it must have a branch in at least one local government area of the State.”
“Banks in the State owe us over N6 billion IGR debt. I am directing the deputy Governor to make a letter to the CBN as their headmaster, to make them pay us the debts.”
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele in his address explained that the Account Opening Week was an initiative of the Bankers Committee, Financial Services Providers and all Financial Inclusion Stakeholders in the State.
Represented by the State Branch Controller, Chris Adayi, Emefiele, said the exercise was ongoing simultaneously across the 6 geopolitical zones of the Country with Ebonyi as the choice State for the South-East.
Emefiele said, “The idea behind the AOW is to drive activities towards achieving the set target of financial inclusion for 2019.”
“We have a target of reaching 80 percent inclusion by 2020, and we have divided up this target for 2019 and 2020 in actual numbers.
“We want to achieve 8.3 million Accounts in 2019 and 8.2 million in 2020. In Ebonyi, we are expected to open 47,000 and 50,000 new accounts and BVN in 2019 and 2020, respectively.”
“The AOW is part of set of initiatives aimed at driving collective action and achieving the intended target outlined above.”
Head of the Financial Unit of the CBN, Daniel Ogbogu lamented that in 2017 alone, less than 10,000 farmers qualified for the CBN Agricultural fund programme as against the profiled 25,000, owing to lack of Bank accounts.
He urged the farmers and residents of the state to open accounts in order to fit into the current global financial transactions digitization.