The Niger State Financial Inclusion Steering Committee (FISSCO) rose from a two-day stakeholders engagement and quarterly meeting with a resolve to set up a 21-member steering committee to boost financial inclusion at the grassroots.

Briefing newsmen in Minna on Wednesday after the meeting, Minna branch controller of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Alhaji Mas’ud Ibrahim Tulu, who is also the state chairman of FISSCO, said the decision to set up the Local Government Financial Inclusion Steering Committee (LOGFISCO) in the 25 LGAs in the state is to drive the activities of FISSCO in rural communities.

In addition to this, Mallam Mas’ud disclosed that if the FISSCO is to achieve the 2019 CBN set target of 94,610 new accounts in the state, there is the need to take the activities of FISSCO to the local government level, which has the highest rate of financial exclusion.

He pointed out that in order to fight poverty, create jobs and improve the economic well-being of the people and drive financial inclusion in the state, “there is the need for the people and government to key into development financial initiatives of the CBN, agency banking platform, digital products, micro-pension, among others.”

He disclosed that at the zonal level, Niger State has the highest exclusion rate of 38.1 percent in the North Central, which is above the zonal average of 30.6 percent.

According to him, the state FISSCO has attained 34 percent of it set target of 94,610, with 32,370 new accounts already opened within six months, adding that over 2,000 banking agents have been recruited to provide services in parts of the state where there is no bank presence.

He stated further that “about 47% of women and 52% of youths are excluded from banking activities in the country because they do not have bank accounts. This is the reason we embarked on a sensitisation and mobilisation drive for more accounts, and [to ensure] that it becomes easier for people to open accounts.”

Mas’ud warned prospective customers and the public at large to be wary of unscrupulous individuals fraudulently collecting money from unsuspecting persons for illegal financial inclusion training.

“We, therefore, use this opportunity to dissociate the financial inclusion secretariat and by extension the CBN from these trainings. These individuals take advantage of the vulnerable and gullible populace and defraud them of their money in the form of training fees and are using the name of CBN and FIS to garner credibility,” he said.

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