Bank of industry reiterates commitment to industrial, SME sector

Elizabeth Christopher, Abuja

The Bank of Industry has reiterated its commitment to drive the Nigerian Industrial and SME sector to greater height.

The Acting Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Waheed Olagunju who made the commitment at a media parley in Lagos south west Nigeria said that the quest for industrialisation cannot be achieved if Nigeria does not add value to its natural resource endowments.

“Nigeria must add value to its natural resource endowments. I want to say here that the huge unemployment rate in Nigeria is artificial. If we start adding value to our natural resources, we will not have enough manpower to operate in the Nigerian economy. The 774 local government areas have a natural resource endowments lying fallow. If we start adding value to them, we would stimulate primary production, processing, meet our local needs and even export. We will not be depending on oil prices which we have no control,” he said.

He said as a development finance institution, the bank is also advocating for a commodity based industrialisation strategy for inclusive growth in the country.

He also added that the bank has rolled out support programmes to support several sectors of the economy.

One of such programmes is the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), an initiative designed to create an ecosystem that links farmers and processors to increase agricultural output of rice to achieve local sufficiency with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN has earmarked N40 billion for the project at single digit interest rate of nine per cent per annum for smallholder farmers.

The Executive Director, Corporate Services and commercialization bank of industry, Mr Jonathan Tobin, said that 78,000 farmers benefit from the scheme in Kebbi State which was the pilot state for  the project.

He said rice is a top commodity where Nigeria currently spends huge amount of its foreign exchange to import.

“The CBN invited the governors of the 14 rice producing states and the executive directors of commercial banks, the governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, showed interest after the meeting, if all the governors come on board, we will be able to meet the local demands, we will not be having the issue of buying a bag of rice at N18, 000,” he said.

We need to grow our own rice so that we can eat fresh rice in the country. Mr Tobi added

The Bank also urged rice producing states to boost their production to reduce the country’s N1.5 trillion food import bill adding that the federal government has directed 14 rice producing states to key into the Anchor Borrower programme.

Nnenna.O