By Ayobami Adedinni
The Managing Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr. Ahmed Kuru has said financial inclusion had become a priority for policymakers, regulators and development agencies globally.
Speaking at the Centre for Financial Journalism (CFJ Nigeria) Financial Journalists’ And Banks’ Communications Managers’ Parley with the theme, “Deepening Financial Inclusion: Role of Financial Journalists and Banks’ Communications Managers at the weekend, said if the nation must align with the rest of the world, it must also be a priority for Nigerians.
According to Kuru who was represented by a Senior Management Staff worker of the Corporation, Prisca Ndu, said financial journalists and banks’ communications managers must lead the pack in creating the awareness for Financial Inclusion and sustaining same.
In his words, “it means that the ideal Financial Journalist must have full grasp of Financial Inclusion in its entirety to be able to explain it to the public. Therefore media houses and media owners must as a matter of priority send their financial reporters on training and retraining programmes to equip them to deliver on their jobs.
“For me, I think that Journalists should be among some of the highest paid professionals because of the importance of the media in nation building. In developed countries, journalists are well paid and well respected but what do we have in Nigeria – we have a situation where media houses owe salaries,which jeopardizes the standards of media profession.
“So the society expects a lot from the Financial Journalist that is grappling with all sorts of challenges including simple things like the basic inability to receive his salary at the end of the month. That is absurd to say the least.
According to him, Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) or those who serve them as Communications Managers must see, appreciate and work with Financial Journalists as partners in progress.
He stated that in order to deepen Financial Inclusion therefore, it is in the place of the Communications Managers and their creative agencies to continually come up with market penetration initiatives and programmes that would create the desired public awareness and interests regarding Financial Inclusion, while the Financial Journalist leverages on the information emanating from the financial houses to engage the public on the benefits and why they need to key into the scheme.
Speaking further, he said, “As financial journalists and communications managers in banks, we know that access to a transaction account is a first step toward broader financial inclusion since it allows people to store money, and send and receive payments.
“ A transaction account can also serve as a gateway to other financial services, which is why ensuring that people worldwide can have access to a transaction account is the focus of the World Bank Group’s Universal Financial Access 2020 initiative.
“This is because financial access facilitates day-to-day living, and helps families and businesses plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies.
“As accountholders, people are more likely to use other financial services, such as credit and insurance, to start and expand businesses, invest in education or health, manage risk, and weather financial shocks, which can improve the overall quality of their lives,” he added.