IFIE Sekibo, managing director, Heritage Bank Limited, has advised Nigerians to always patronise locally made goods and services so as to stimulate growth in the economy and preserve the nation’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves. Sekibo made this call during the presentation of the Gold Sponsorship award for 2015 to Heritage Bank by the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria, FICAN, at the bank’s head office in Lagos.
He stressed the need for FICAN members, as journalists, to drive the conversation for Nigerians to change their lifestyles. According to him, “We can’t grow an economy where all we want to spend on are dollar-denominated and foreign goods. Left for Nigerians, they want to be doing all their spending on dollars, forgetting that dollar is not our local currency. Everything they do with dollar gives employment to somebody in another country and not in Nigeria. So, we must continue to have that conversation and it must be robust.
“So, it is important as a people to begin to educate our fellow Nigerians on these things and it is the financial correspondents that must drive this because this is a very serious issue and if we don’t, we would all regret it. You have members in print, electronic and online, if with 100 people on your platform alone, you can drive this change.”
Commenting on the award by FICAN, Sekibo commended the leadership of the association for their foresight and vision, saying his bank did not support the association because of the award. “We are still very young in our development as an organisation. We didn’t step out to support FICAN with the intention of getting this award. People send all kinds of letters to us saying we have been awarded this and that but we have been turning them down. We deliberately turned down all kinds of awards, but this one from FICAN is very special and I can’t say no to it. We didn’t ask for it and it came to us as a surprise, which is why we value it so much.
“You have been covering the sector for a while and we believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that the quality of information that comes from people that cover the sector is useful to the public and you have done a good job in doing that. So, we will continue on that to ensure that we improve on the ability of journalists to report the industry. This award will spur us to do more. This is an encouragement for us to engage more with you, especially when we begin to discuss financial inclusion and expanding the space of excluded people. The ball is shifting; the days when only the formal sector should understand finance are over.
“Everybody should begin to understand finance. They should understand how they spend their money, why we need to save and we need to teach our children why they need to save from now. These are some of the conversations we need to have to ensure that we promote financial inclusion,” he said.
— Jan 18, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT