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By David Uka, Abakaliki

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria, to prevail on commercial banks operating in the state  to defray the debts of over N6 billion owed the state government.

Governor Umahi  made the call at Onueke, Ebonyi State, during the official flag-off of the Account Opening Week of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He decried how commercial banks operating in the state owe the state government of over N6 billion.

“Banks in the state owe us over N6 billion IGR debt. 

“I am directing the deputy governor to make a letter to the CBN as their headmaster, to make them pay us the debts.” he said

The Governor who also  implored the apex bank to prevail on commercial banks in the state to reach out to the rural communities, stressed that the state government would evolve plans to ensuring that any commercial bank wishing to continue operation in the State must have at least, a branch in one of the local government areas of the State in order to qualify.

He decried the low status of the state in CBN’s Financial Access and Accounts Opening rating and blamed the development on failure of commercial banks to extend their services to the hinterlands.

The governor who reiterated that the key priority of his administration is to lift the economic standards of the people, commended the CBN and its Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for all interventions so far granted the state in agriculture and other economic ventures.

He said government has approved a total sum of N64 million to rural farmers across the State to assist them open and own Bank Accounts.

He said the amount would be given to the rural farmers through the 64 Development Centre (DC) Coordinators at the rate of N1million per DC, targeting 1,000 farmers from each.

Umahi who stated that the State targets about 80,000 new accounts within the month of December, said the move was to guarantee the realisation of the target as well as encourage the farmers to effectively access economic interventions of government and the CBN.

He further lent support to President Muhammadu Buhari for closing the country’s borders, lamenting that the state has had its share of poisons smuggled into the State in the name of foreign rice.

He urged the CBN to evolve policies to further encourage local production, adding that Nigeria should not be a dumping ground. 

Responding the State Branch Controller, Chris Adayi   who represented the CBN governor explained  that the idea behind the AOW is to drive activities towards achieving the set target of financial inclusion for 2019.

He said the Account Opening Week was an initiative of the Bankers Committee, Financial Services Providers and all Financial Inclusion Stakeholders in the State. 

He said the exercise was ongoing simultaneously across the six geopolitical zones of the country with Ebonyi as the choice state for the South-East.

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