The President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Dr Uche Olowu has called on Nigerian banks to invest in education sector. Speaking on the sideline of the investiture ceremony of Fellows and Senior Members of CIBN on Saturday in Lagos with the Publisher, Nigerian NewsDirect, Dr. SAMUEL IBIYEMI, the President of CIBN maintained that banks operating in the country have to think on how to solve indigenous problems, support investment in qualitative education and the need for enabling environment to encourage inflow of investment. Excerpts.
Looking at this event and the mass participation of Fellows and CEOs of banks, how do you feel as a president and chairman of the governing council of CIBN?
It is obvious that I will be happy and I am really excited with the turnout. When I took over as the 20th president and chairman of the council, I said we are going to treat our event as a product. In this case, product carries quality and that is the quality you are witnessing today. I am grateful to Chief Executive Officers of banks for answering the call and making sure that they are here personally. It is a successful ceremony, I guess. When you put in a hard effort and it turns out to be successful, you will be happy.
Looking at the theme “Sound Education System & Human Capital Development”, what is CIBN doing in particular beside this conference to improve education system in the banking industry?
Yes, the core mandate: upholding ethics and professionalism. The next is to determine the standard and quality of competence in the industry and that is a critical mandate because you need to be a professional. This will enable them to discharge their duties responsibly, upholding ethics and conduct. So, for us, it is a major function. What we have done is to commoditize our competences in the first place because that is a global trend. So, now, we have various certifications in ethics and governance, treasury management, strategic talent management and we are even putting up community practice so that we have specializations in banking industry. That is what we are doing. We are also collaborating with international institutions like Bangor University in Wales, Lagos Business School and other institutions because they know we need to deepen and broaden the financial system.
Taking a look at the banking industry how can we compare our banks with other countries?
We have to be indigenous; we have to create our own value. So, there is no basis for comparism. The market here is shallow as opposed to what we have there. However, in terms of delivery of services, I think we are doing quite okay. We are leveraging on technology to do a catch-up and we are doing very well. Especially in the payment space, Nigerian banks have done very well. It is Nigeria that started the movement of instant transfer which we do not have in the advanced countries and we will do more. So, if Nigerian banks are able to sort out some few challenges, I think we will be a force to reckon with.
What can you say on FG’s 2019 budget allocation to education?
Of course, you know there has been revenue shortfall in the nation’s economy. Government has not paid the desired attention to education and that is also because resources are limited. But one thing I must say is that the way to go in solving this problem is Public Private Participation (PPP) arrangement and other institutions have to contribute. All over the world, the government sets policy and drive the right regulations. What the government needs do is to create an enabling environment, the right directions and we will begin to see very great activities. All we need do is that the banking system should support education sector. It is the right investment to do.
Do we need more banks in Nigeria?
Yes, we need banks that are well capitalized and that can support financial intermediation. The more the banks, the merrier and better the economy. Of course, it will bring indepth competition but they have to be adequately capitalized.
How do you think we can boost the GDP?
Once there is microeconomic stability and the government sets the right economic policy. You know Nigeria is the best frontier and so that comes with financial play, when you see international banks making enquiry to come to Nigeria.
How do you see Nigerian economy in 2019 with the general election?
With general election, President Buhari did say politics will go on but governance will continue. If it does, there would not be any distortion but if otherwise, it will definitely affect economic development because the first six months after election is usually for politicking.
How do you see the economy in the last 10 months?
We have just celebrated coming out of economic recession and that is because the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) was well designed. We followed strictly the policy even though there are certain drawbacks and have not fully achieved what we designed to achieve. To score the nation’s economic growth, it is fairly okay but we are not yet there.