The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it will support the Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria (CFAN) to ensure financial inclusion in the country, according to NAN.
Temitope Akinfadeyi, Head of Financial Inclusion Secretariat, said this at the 2017 United Nations International Day of Cooperatives in Abuja on Saturday.
Akinfadeyi stated that one of the initiatives that can enable members of cooperatives to benefit from formal financial services is the National Cooperative Development Fund (NCDF).
She said the fund would provide the needed guarantee for members to borrow from banks, adding that CBN would then provide the needed technical support to CFAN to achieve the objective.
According to her, the theme, `Inclusion: Cooperatives ensure no one is left behind’, provides a very strong platform for reaching out to the financially excluded in the society.
“It is also an invaluable opportunity for members of cooperative societies to educate people and their communities on the importance of managing their financial lives.
“It will also enable members to imbibe savings culture, utilise appropriate financial products and services; and enhance members’ ease of access to finance and capital,’’ she said.
Earlier, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, had reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to supporting the implementation of the cooperative development policy.
Ogbeh, represented by the Federal Director of Cooperatives, Mr Akintoye Akintola, said the government would ensure activation of the NCDF and passage of necessary bills that would strengthen the sector’s operations.
He said: “This is underscored by the constitution of the National Steering Committee of the NCDF with the hope of launching the fund this year.
“This fund is expected to solve your guarantee and collateral issues. These and other reforms are in process to reposition the cooperative movement to deliver on its mandate.
“My ministry will continue to evolve and support useful programmes that will benefit the cooperative sector.’’
The minister also stated that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration recognises the relevance of the cooperative model to national economic development.
He said government would study the various challenges of CFAN with a view to creating an improved environment for cooperative societies to thrive.
Meanwhile, Akintola, had in his opening remarks, reiterated the importance of cooperatives to nation-building.
Akintola, who also was represented by the Deputy Director of Cooperatives, Alh Idris Sani, said cooperatives had been identified as a more stable and sustainable business model unlike the capitalism model.
He said, “they provide employment opportunities, stability, resilience; and constitute an important channel for bridging market and human values among others.’’
The Chief Registrar of Cooperatives, Hajiya Hassana Mohammed, urged CFAN to workout appropriate strategies that would ensure financial inclusion.
“We must adopt strategies to strengthen the movement through capacity building, entrenchment of cooperative best practice and law to position cooperatives to deliver on its mandate to members,’’ Mohammed said.
Also, Mr Emeka Mbagha, President, Abuja Cooperative Federation, said the theme of the event was chosen to further emphasise the contribution of cooperative societies to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal.
Mbagha urged the government to take more interest in cooperative matters to help the body take its rightful place in the society.
“The cooperative movement in Nigeria is well harnessed and well positioned to promote inclusiveness which advances equitable opportunities for economic participants.
“Cooperatives have the capacity to engender economic development if properly utilised by government as a channel for dissemination of microfinance to the rural poor” he said.
Mbagha also said ABCOF was working at establishing a steering committee in the FCT to work out the framework for the management of the NCDF hopefully before the end of the month.