Intervention Funds: Bank Customers, NANTS, Others Seek MFBs’ Involvement

NAMB President – Joshua Ukute

Miffed by the recent alleged abuses in the disbursement of poverty alleviation funds by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, some leading banking and development experts have called on the Federal Government to begin to use of Microfinance Banks (MFBs) in the disbursement of such funds in order to achieve the objectives of the poverty alleviation programmes.

Reacting to the reported public finance abuses in the Ministry and its implications for the poverty alleviation drive of the government, a seasoned banker and National Chairman of Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN), Dr. Uju Ogubunka, told journalists while sharing his views on the need to involve MFBs in the social intervention funds’ disbursement that “there shouldn’t be any doubt that MFBs will best serve the purpose of disbursing the funds to the poor in the country.

Ogubunka, a former Registrar of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), justified his stance based on the ‘Micro Finance Policy, Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for Nigeria’ issued by the CBN in 2005, stressing “that MFBs stand shoulder higher among all the other types of banks/other financial institutions to be given the opportunity to handle financial services/affairs of poor people especially, at the rural areas of the country.”

Similarly, the President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS, Dr. Ken Ukaoha, said the saga demonstrated the existence of deep-rooted corruption in the public service that should be frontally tackled by the present administration in order to alleviate the prevalent multidimensional poverty in the country.

Specifically, Ukaoha, who is also a legal expert and smallholder farmers’ capacity building proponent, pointed out that channeling social intervention funds through the MFBs will ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursements “as these MFBs are guided by monetary principles in all areas of their operations. More so, accessibility of the funds at the local level where small-scale farmers predominantly operate will be more guaranteed. 

“So, I think that government should get the MFBs involved in getting these funds to the beneficiaries to achieve the goals of the programmes. This will also support these grassroots-oriented micro lenders to grow in this very challenging time in the economy”, Ukaoha stressed.

In his remarks, Director-General/CEO, Association of Nigerian Exporters (ANE), Prince Joseph Idiong,
harped on the need for the use of MFBs as preferred final channel for disbursement of poverty alleviation funds, saying that this is desirable “when considering their reach to most local areas, though there are still some Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country that do not have MFBs or Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).”

Specifically, he advocated: “To use MFBs as channel for disbursement of poverty alleviation funds, I prefer the use of MFBs that have strong capitalization, national or regional spread. State Government- owned MFBs could also be used as State Governments can be held responsible.” 

Commenting, a former National Chairman of Association of Small-Scale Agro-Producers in Nigeria (ASSAPIN), Hajia Amina Jubrin, said: “The MFBs are best positioned to efficiently disburse these funds in order to achieve the objectives.”

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