Rogers Nwoke, President of the National Association of Microfinance Banks (NAMB), said on yesterday that more than 40 per cent of Nigerians were still excluded financially and needed to understand their rights.
He made the observation when he visited Mr Bayo Onanuga, Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja.
“We are in the forefront of financial inclusion programme and we are seeking collaboration with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to drive financial inclusion in the country.”
According to Nwoke, one major issue that has been identified in the country is the financial exclusion of rural dwellers who form over 70 per cent of the Nigerian population.
He said the people in the rural areas needed to understand their rights and privileges, adding that collaboration with the agency would help disseminate such information to them.
“We are here to introduce ourselves and put a face to the micro finance association and we consider this agency as a very key in the dissemination of information.
“As you know, microfinance sector is very important in the micro economic development of the country and we think that there is a gap between what we do and the perception of Nigerians.
“One of the issues we have identified is the issue of financial literacy which is very low and even those who are banked do not really understand their rights and privileges as bank customers.
“Record shows that more than 40 per cent of Nigerians are still excluded financially and we are in the forefront of financial inclusion programme.
“It is over 10 years since the formal micro finance started by virtue of the law of the national micro finance policy of 2005 and we still haven’t solved this problem.
“And we think it is because there has not been a strong handshake between us and the information space in Nigeria and a strong collaboration will help us get there.’’
The NAMB president explained that collaboration with NAN would help advance financial inclusion and get the people into the formal financial system.
He noted that the business of microfinance had been totally misunderstood by the people, even those in the National Assembly.
He said there were over 999 licensed Micro Finance Banks (MFBs) in the country regulated and supervised by the CBN and over 3000 unregulated MFBs in operation that people are not aware of.
“We believe people need to know this difference and we cannot do it alone; that is why we need a strong collaboration with the information space and you (NAN) are key and central to that.
Mr Yusuf Zango, the NAN managing director, represented by the Editor-in-Chief, expressed the agency’s commitment to collaborate with NAMB to drive financial inclusion in the country.
Onanuga said the agency was about 40 years old with offices across the country and district offices with correspondents who were report happenings from the rural perspective.
He said NAN engaged mainly in development journalism and was in the right position to partner with the microfinance association to deliver their mandate.