The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday warned Deposit Money Banks against excessive investment in fixed securities to the detriment of real sector financing.
He charged the banking sector to live up to its core responsibility of stimulating the economy by advancing credit to employment generation sectors of the economy.
Emefiele said these at the opening of the 12th annual Banking and Finance Conference with the theme, “The future of Nigerian banking industry-360 degrees.”
The apex bank boss urged the banking industry to embrace the 21st century banking by redirecting surplus resources to critical sectors of the economy.
Represented by the CBN Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Dr Joseph Nnanna, the governor said unemployment remained the biggest challenge in the country and appealed to the industry to assist government in addressing the challenge.
He said, “We cannot conceive an economy without banks and neither can we conceive banks without an economy.
“The days of armchair banking, playing in the treasury bill space are right behind us. The Central Bank of Nigeria is bullish and we have in fact taken our responsibility very seriously.”
He further explained that the era of huge Non-Performing Loans which had become a source of worry to the banking industry was now a thing of the past.
Emefiele vowed that anyone benefiting from any loan facility must pay back, adding that the support of the judiciary was needed in this direction.
He said in the last few months, the apex bank had come up with various initiatives to reduce the level of the NPLs in the banking sector.
He added, “In the past months, we have come up with new initiatives – the loans to deposit ratio is aimed at transforming liquidity management into risk asset management and asset transformation.
“We do not want the banks to be money changers. Banking is not banking if you only play in the government-fixed income space.
“Banking becomes meaningful when you take liquidity excesses from your surplus centres and channel them into scarce areas; that way, you are transforming liquidity into assets and you are growing the economy and creating employment.”
In the area of unemployment, he said banks had a lot or role to play to create jobs, adding that the apex bank would continue to come up with initiatives to make lending less risky.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who declared open the conference said that the Federal Government’s programmes aimed at promoting financial inclusion remained key to the actualisation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise of lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
Osinbajo said that financial inclusion was the key to lifting 100 million people out of poverty in ten years, adding the Federal Government through its TraderMoni and MarketMoni programmes had provided microcredit to almost two million petty traders.
To improve opportunities for those at the bottom of the pyramid, Osinbajo said the government was working with the Bank of Industry and other players to move petty traders higher up in the value chain with more resources.