By Abdulwaheed Olayinka Adubi, Kaduna
Borno State Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, has directed the State Ministry of Finance and that of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation to, in accordance with regulatory procedures, hastily establish branches of Borno’s existing Microfinance Bank, as well as/and ICT centres across the 27 Local Government Areas.
Zulum’s directive followed the CBN’s policy on stoppage of old naira notes amid the absence of banking services across 25 out of Borno’s 27 Local Government Areas due to over 12 years of killings and destruction by Boko Haram insurgents.
The governor announced the microfinance measures on Wednesday in Maiduguri during an extraordinary stakeholders meeting which was attended by the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Umar Garbai Elkanemi, represented by the Waziri of Borno, Mustapha Waziri Muktar.
Zulum directed that where possible, branches of the microfinance bank should start being established this week in Monguno and Gwoza Local Government Areas.
Zulum lamented thus: “At the moment we only have two LGAs with banking services and these are Maiduguri and Biu. The distance from most of the local governments to either Maiduguri or Biu is too long”
“Despite a great improvement of the security in Borno, there are still challenges for banks to start operations. Banking is a very delicate industry and I am sure none of them is willing to take the risk of establishing branches in our LGAs for now. Therefore, to support our people, the Borno State Government has to take the risk.
“I have directed the ministry of finance to ensure the recapitalization of Borno Renaissance Microfinance Bank to qualify it to have the capacity to open branches in all the 27 LGAs. This I believe will greatly alleviate the suffering of our people”, Zulum said.
Governor Zulum also directed the Ministry of Finance to immediately come up with a template to organize and ensure people in rural communities deposit their old naira notes before the 31st of January deadline.
“I have convened this meeting to discuss how our people in the villages can get easy windows of depositing their money to the bank accounts as stipulated in the CBN’s new policy. The Ministry of Finance is hereby directed to moblize the people and ensure nobody loses his money, you should facilitate ways through which people can voluntarily deposit their money into the banks in the remaining days” Zulum said to stakeholders.
Governor Zulum also directed the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation to support mobile telecommunication providers towards improving their network coverage for internet connectivity across all 27 local government areas.
The meeting had in attendance, members of the Borno State House of Assembly, Commissioners, Advisers, Local Government Chairmen and other critical stakeholders.