BORNO State Governor Babagana Zulum has directed the immediate expansion of the state-owned Borno Renaissance Microfinance Bank to the state’s 27 Local Government Areas (LGAs).
The order followed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announcement on October 26, 2022, and its insistence that the old Naira notes of N1000, N500 and N200 would cease to be legal tender from January 31, 2023.
Zulum revealed that only two LGAs, Maiduguri and Biu, had banks operating in them since the Boko Haram insurgency hit the state over a decade ago.
He said the currency swap (changing old notes for new ones) would affect people of the state because they needed access to tender the notes with them and collect new ones before the January 31 deadline.
The governor directed the state Ministry of Finance and its counterpart in Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation to, in accordance with regulatory procedures, ‘hastily’ establish branches of the microfinance bank, as well as/and information and communication technology (ICT) centres across the state’s LGAs.
Zulum gave the order in a statement published on Thursday on his Facebook Page during an extraordinary stakeholders’ meeting in the state on Wednesday.
He said the ministries should establish the microfinance bank branches this week in Monguno and Gwoza Local Government Areas, if possible.
The governor decried the impact of insecurity in the state and how it has scared investors, including those in the banking industry.
“Despite a great improvement of the security in Borno, there are still challenges for banks to start operations. 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 said.
The governor also directed the Ministry of Finance to immediately develop a template to organize and ensure people in rural communities deposit their old naira notes before January 31 deadline.
Besides, he directed the Ministry 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.
The ICIR reports that the CBN has maintained its stance on the deadline for using the old notes as legal tenders.
The Senate had on Tuesday, January 24 appealed to the CBN to extend the deadline to the end of July this year.
But in a swift response the same Tuesday, the apex bank stood its ground.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Thursday vowed to compel the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman, to arrest the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele because he shunned the House invitations seeking his explanations on the currency swap.
Nigerians have complained that the new notes are very scarce in circulation and called for a deadline extension.
The CBN had also alleged that the commercial banks were not collecting the new notes and consequently threatened to sanction them.