From Uche Usim, Abuja
Nigeria’s energy transition journey gained a milestone on Tuesday, with President Muhammadu Buhari announcing the federal government’s readiness to junk kerosene consumption by 2030 when gas penetration would have been total.
Also on the cards are plans to ditch dirty fuels, in an effort to address the problems associated with climate change.
President made the pronouncement in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the 15th Annual Banking and Finance Conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
Represented by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Mrs Zainab Ahmed, President Buhari while speaking on climate change emphasised that long-term greenhouse emissions have resulted in hotter temperatures, more severe rainstorms, increased drought and food security issues.
“To tackle this issue, the government has set plans in motion to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions from Nigeria. More specifically, by 2030, we aim to eliminate kerosene lighting as well as short-lived pollutants in the oil and gas sector,” he said.
On the raging inflation across the globe, he assured that the government would continually reel out containment measures in form of social interventions, to ensure it remains within tolerable limits, especially for the downtrodden.
He attributed the scary inflation figures across the world to fast-rising consumer demand in a world that was yet to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, yet tossed into the Russia-Ukraine war.
Speaking to the theme of the conference, “Repositioning the Financial Services Industry for an Evolving Glocal Context,” the President noted that “in the new ‘Glocal’, repositioning the finance services industry involves valuable innovations to ensure global solutions reach local indigenous customers.”
In repositioning itself, President Buhari urged the finance sector to “serve not just as an intermediary for lenders and borrowers but in creating a new ecosystem consisting of platforms where ordinary Africans can buy and sell their locally made products despite currency disparity as being practised on the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), a brainchild of Afrexim Bank.”
To this end, the President commended the regulators of the industry, particularly the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) “for their diligent work which has ensured financial system stability in the country over the years.”
He then assured, “the entire banking and finance community that the government will continue to support the industry in all appropriate ways to ensure the sector continues to deliver on its mandates while creating value innovation for its customers.”
Delivering the keynote address, Mr Farouk Gumel, Chairman of Union Bank Plc, told reporters that the banking sector has made a lot of progress in the last five, or six years. According to him “there has been a lot of awareness which has led to a lot of interest and investment.”
“You can’t uplift the lives of 100 million people overnight from where they were yesterday to where you want them to be today. It’s a gradual process. The expectation has to be managed; we have to work gradually to where we want to be. That’s what’s happening in the rural economy today.”
He went further to add that to bring financial inclusion to the unbanked what is needed is “re- branching. We just need a big branch. You need a rural branch that is targeted at the rural people.”
To address human capital erosion in the face of brain drain now known as the Japa syndrome, Farouk Gumel said the banking sector is “looking at how to capture the young people, how to make them understand the Nigeria of their dreams. You have to first of all live the reality before achieving your dreams. There are a lot of people that are looking for jobs, there are lots of people that can be trained to get these jobs. Once you train them on these jobs they deliver.”
Dr Ken Opara, President/Chairman of Council of The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria said “as the world continues to evolve, the financial services industry will need to explore innovation and reconfigure its business and operating platforms, in some cases it would require making profound changes to succeed in the future.”
The Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu represented by Dr Rabiu Olowo the state’s Commissioner for Finance said that given the increasing consciousness of globalisation “and its effects on the national economy and financial system, it’s very clear that we must take due cognisance of the evolving system in global space with a view to aligning our strategy with the global trend.”
The Lagos State governor urged the nation’s financial services sector to “be tailored towards supporting the real sector and other sectors to sustain job creation and economic growth, food security, improve revenue generation capacity and poverty eradication.”
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