From TIMOTHY OLANREWAJU, Maiduguri
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, yesterday said only a sound economy could guarantee security of life and property of the citizens, adding that the Boko Haram insurgents would persist except the economy is fixed. Sanusi, who spoke in Maiduguri, at the flag off of CBN Financial Inclusion Strategy Pilot Implementation programme, noted that poverty and unemployment fuelled Boko Haram uprising in Borno, which later spread to some states in the North.
He maintained that Nigeria cannot solve the challenges of Boko Haram until she fixes her economy. “I believe that at the heart of Boko Haram crisis in Borno and other parts of the country is unemployment and poverty and we can never fix security until we fix economy,” he stressed. The apex bank boss disclosed that the decision to establish the Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) for the North East, in Borno, was taken at a Bankers Committee conference in Calabar last year, having noted the strategic position of the state to the growth of national economy and the need to improve the economy of the people of the area.
He said he believes the effort would substantially address the security challenge in the area. According to him, the financial inclusion strategy is aimed at increasing access to financial services, such as payments, savings, remittance, pension, insurance and credit facility at affordable cost. “Each time Nigerians discuss Borno, it is always Boko Haram issue but we feel people should not be overwhelmed by the Boko Haram thing and we should not be obsessed by it,’ he warned.
Sanusi disclosed that the CBN would partner with the Borno government by building a centre of excellence at the University of Maiduguri and investing in development of secondary schools as parts of the apex bank’s intervention in the education sector. He explained that the EDC was conceived by the CBN with supports from the Committee of Bankers to train youths on various skills. He said the Financial Inclusion Strategy programme was designed to make banking activities and service closer to the people, even as he charged the people to use the opportunity provided by the information technological especially with mobile telephone.
Also speaking, Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, disclosed that over 200 base stations belonging to two major telecommunication providers have been destroyed in Borno, by suspected Boko Haram. She called on the state government and communities to provide adequate security for the base stations and telecommunication facilities in the state, adding that they “are national facilities though belong to private communication companies.” She also disclosed that more facilities of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) will be established in other local governments in the state “where the services or facilities are currently not available.”
The minister also noted that NIPOST services was vital in getting many Nigerians included in the CBN project and will equally be required to drive the micro-financial banks especially in the rural areas. Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, thanked the CBN governor and the communication minister for their understanding that job creation was a better panacea to tackling youth restiveness and insurgence, like Boko Haram.
He stated that the state government had invested N120.5 million on the establishment of micro-finance banks, stressing that all the processes have been completed and now waiting for the release of the license. While appealing to telecom companies to repair their facilities in the state destroyed by suspected Boko Haram, he assured that government “will ensure maximum security of all the base stations and telecommunications facilities in the state.”