Abuja, March 18, 2017 (TNE): The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have presented awards to 60 micro finance banks and institutions under the Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN).
The agencies, selected from the 12 participating states of the programme, were given awards for encouraging, supporting and funding rural businesses in their localities.
The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Katsina, Zamfara, Benue, Nasarawa, Lagos, Oyo, Anambra, Imo, Edo and Akwa Ibom.
The central objective of the programme is to develop and strengthen Micro Finance Banks (MFBs) and other Micro Finance Institutions (MFls) by enhancing access of the rural populace to funding to improve agricultural productivity as well as micro and small scale enterprises.
Speaking during the award, Mr Uji Amedu, CBN`s Deputy Director, Development Finance Department, commended recipients for their efforts to implement the rural development plans introduced in the course of the RUFIN programme.
Amedu said the prize was to spur other MFBs to extend their service delivery to the rural people and empower them to establish more small and medium enterprises.
“The IFAD, in collaboration with CBN, funded RUFIN activities; the implementing departments in the bank are Development Finance, Other Financial Institutions Supervision and Research Development.
“The provision of access to financial services through the micro finance sub-sector engenders grassroots economic growth and development.
“The RUFIN and CBN have been enjoying support in the participating states and we have seen the determination of the state governments in ensuring the continuity of the programme,” he said.
Dr Bamidele Amao, the RUFIN-IFAD Representative in CBN, said that the rural business plans needed to be strengthened to include more states and local government areas across the country.
Amao, who is also the Deputy Director (Research) in CBN, said that the programme’s extension would enable more farmers to benefit from the programme in efforts to generate wealth and improve their living standards.
Mr Muyiwa Azeez, the RUFIN National Programme Coordinator, said that under the programme, more than N40 billion had been disbursed to people in the rural areas in the 12 participating states.
He said that the programme which would wind down by the end of March, had contributed significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Azeez, who is also Director, Agribusiness and Marketing, in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, assured the rural people, particularly farmers, that government was working out modalities to institute the second phase of RUFIN.
“Before the inception of RUFIN, not many financial institutions were known, even though Nigeria has the largest number of micro finance institutions in Africa but they were just not visible.
“RUFIN is not dead, we are writing to IFAD to see how we can revive the second phase of RUFIN, in view of the successes recorded under it.
Mr Valentine Ezeh, the President, National Association of Micro Finance Banks (NAMB), expressed delight for being one of the implementing partners of the programme.
“What we need is diversification in our social lives, businesses and economy; that is the essence of the rural business plan.
“The programme is very dear to us because the CBN, which is our regulator, will ensure that no MFB closes down in this country,” he said.
Some of the recipients called on the CBN, IFAD and the Federal Government to immediately launch the second phase of RUFIN in order to impact more on rural livelihoods.
The implementation of the RUFIN programme is being coordinated by CBN, Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (NACRDB) and the Federal Department of Cooperatives (FDC). (TNE)