President Muhammadu Buhari has commended Ecobank for its various initiatives targeted at promoting financial inclusion in the country.
Buhari, spoke when he had audience with the Board of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) in his office at the State House, Abuja. According to President Buhari, the pan Africa bank’s support for agriculture and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sectors would generate economic activities across the country.
He urged the bank to institute a special fund to develop agriculture, which will cement its legacy as a bank that helped to transform and boost regional economic activities.
According to a statement, the president stressed that his administration remained committed to the goals of securing the country, inclusive economic growth, and fighting corruption.
According to him, Nigeria was in a unique position as the most populous and resource-rich nation on the African continent, adding that the resources would be harnessed and properly managed, to engender a prosperous and peaceful country.
He said: “If assets and resources available to Nigeria were properly managed, she would be prosperous and peaceful. But the poverty and insecurity we are experiencing today are results of decades of neglect and resource mismanagement”.
Ikazoboh who had in his delegation, the Group Chief Executive Officer, ETI, Ade Ayeyemi and Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, stated that the Bank was according high priority to the SME sub-sector, disclosing that “we’ve improved the capital of Ecobank in Nigeria.”
He added: “In the last six months, we have brought in about $150 million all to drive borrowings and supporting the small and medium enterprises.”
Speaking to State House Correspondents on the challenges they want the President to intervene in, the bank chief said: “Well in our speech, we have told him some of the challenges Nigeria and Africa are facing. Like I said earlier on, if Nigeria is sorted out, Africa is sorted out, and some of these challenges are infrastructure, of which they are working on assiduously.
“Also we are talking about the Seme road because of West African trade route which we think should be given some priority. And to thank him also for the steps he is taking to clear the Apapa Port because that is where trade is coming into Nigeria.”
The bank chief added: “The major problem confronting the banks today are the debtors. We have a number of debtors both corporate and individuals, and we need to put in place a framework to ensure that people do not just take loan and not pay pack.
“Banks are under pressure because if you have a lot of unpaid loans, it means you don’t have enough money to also support other borrowings or other small and medium enterprises.”
The Ecobank Group Chairman explained that the purpose of their visit was to “congratulate the President on his re-election and to wish him God’s guidance and spiritual protection to continue to lead this nation because we believe that he has the interest of the country at heart and if Nigeria succeeds, Africa has succeeded and being the leader of Nigeria, he is the leader of Africa. Since we are the Pan-African bank, we needed to come and see the leader of Africa.”
Ikazoboh disclosed that the Ecobank Group “with a larger African footprint than any other bank in the world operating in West, Central, East and Southern Africa is the only bank that spans 36 African countries, but operates a truly integrated African network.”