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Naira notes: Zulum directs for emergency establishment of microfinance bank branches in 25 LGAs in Borno

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By Ahmed Mari, Maiduguri

Borno state governor, Babagana Zulum has ordered the state-owned microfinance bank, the state Ministries of Finance, Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, to establish microfinance banks and Information Communication Technology (ICT) centres across the 27 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state, in accordance with regulatory procedures.

Zulum gave the directive on Wednesday, during an extraordinary stakeholder meeting at the Government House, Maiduguri, on ways Borno people in the villages can get easily deposit their money to banks as stipulated in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) new policy.

Zulum mandated the Ministry of Finance to mobilize Borno people, ensure nobody lost their money, and help them “voluntarily deposit their money into the banks in the remaining days.” 

The governor’s emergency meeting regarding the CBN’s policy on the stoppage of old naira notes was held amid the absence of banking services in 25 of Borno’s 27 LGAs, due to over 12 years of killings and destruction by Boko Haram insurgents. 

The meeting drew critical stakeholders including the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Umar Garbai Elkanemi, who was represented by the Waziri of Borno, Mustapha Waziri Muktar; members of the Borno State House of Assembly, Commissioners, Advisers, and Local Government Chairmen.

“Despite a great improvement of the security in Borno, there are still challenges for banks to start operations,” the governor said.

“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, 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”, he added.

The governor directed that where possible, branches of the microfinance bank should start being established this week in Monguno and Gwoza Local Government Areas.  

He lamented that there were only two LGAs with banking services, namely Maiduguri and Biu; places that have a long distance from most of the local governments.

Zulum directed the Ministry of Finance to immediately come up with a template for people in rural communities to deposit their old naira notes before the January 31 deadline.

He also asked the Ministries 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.

Earlier in October 2022, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele introduced newly redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes, which he says will help rein in the excess cashflow in the country and stifle terrorism financing.

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