What is Non-Interest Banking (NIB)? As the name implies, this is a form of banking that the borrower attracts zero interest from the lending bank. The subscriber to a non interest loan requires no collateral to access the facility. All the beneficiary need to do is the provision of a viable business proposal to the bank for approval. The bank enters into profit sharing agreement with the beneficiary, and the profits made from such ventures are used in running the banks. Bank charges are also deducted through this process. Because the bank carries the entire risk, monitoring and strict disbursement conditions are the hallmark of non-interest banking. The bank bears 100% loss in the event of business failure.
What is Islamic Banking? The 1991 financial services decree(BOFIA) is the law that laid the foundation for the operation of Islamic Banking, which is a subset of non-interest banking. The Central bank of Nigeria under the leadership of Prof. Charles Soludo (A distinguished scholar and arguably the best CBN governor of all time) developed the framework for the take off the NIB. The Islamic banking model is one of the three subsets of NIB that the apex bank approved for this facility. The Islamic bank is designed around the Islamic ‘sukuk’ system which has similarities with ‘bonos’ of the capitalist system. The difference is that ‘sukuk’ money is invested in concrete projects and profit share is distributed among clients (http://www.worldbulletin.net/index.php?aType=haberArchive&ArticleID=37814). I do not think that a devout catholic like Prof. Soludo with his first class mind will do anything against his faith. A man who consolidated the banking industry and shielded our financial sector from the recent world economic meltdown will always think in the interest of the country. This consolidation of the banking sector is what Mallam Sanusi Lamido is currently adding value to by weeding out “the rogue bankers” from the system. As a risk management expert, SLS is better placed to know the pros and cons of Islamic banking.
What are the effects of both on our economy and the polity? The first license for an Islamic banking model was issued to Jaiz International Bank. People have asked why the Islamic banking window first? The answer is simple: Jaiz International applied for this model and was dully licensed after meeting the CBN regulations. It is also public knowledge that IBTC has been granted provisional license to operate an Islamic banking window. Is Atedo Peterside a Muslim? The introduction of this banking model will harness the creativeness of young Nigerians who are unable to access loans from the conventional banks. Imagine what this opportunity will do to a university graduate who desires to be self-employed? The major beneficiaries will be the small scale industries that are perpetually hampered by absence of collateral in accessing bank loans. Our productivity will grow in leaps and bounds, unemployment will be reduced, agriculture will be boosted and crime rate will be lowered. It is amazing that people want us to throw these benefits away because of the name “Islamic banking.” I beg to differ. These benefits will in turn ensure a stable political environment devoid of the present rancours. We shall have a better political climate when the politician has no youth to use for his devilish tendencies.
The hypocrisy of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), led by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor though baffling, is not unexpected. The noise about using the Islamic bank as a tool of Islamizing Nigeria is a red herring to divert questions from discerning Christians. I am a thoroughbred Anglican and I wonder how I am going to be Islamized by a bank I have a choice not to patronize. We have been fed with beer parlour tales of how Islamic principles will be applied in disbursement of the loans which in the mind of the talebearers amounts to Islamizing Nigeria. Haba! What these “merchants of the Gospel” failed to educate their followers is that there are investors who would not want their funds invested in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages, casinos, cigarettes and prostitution enhancement ventures. These individuals will not channel their funds to the normal Non-Interest banks, but to an Islamic bank window that will ensure strict adherence to these principles. The CAN president and his co-travelers should please answer the questions below:
1.Has the holiday on Sundays evangelized non-Christians?
2.Has the cross symbol in public health institutions evangelized non-Christians?
3.Has insurance companies owed by churches evangelized the entire country?
4.Is he aware that the Christian universities are operating in strict adherence to the teachings of their respective ministries?
5.Is he aware that himself and other multi-billionaire pastors are in a position to help Christians by establishing a Non-Interest bank that will practice in total adherence to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.?
6.Is he and other church leaders worried that their congregants will start asking essential questions on the lifestyles of “men of God?”
7.When will they pause to imagine what our society could have been if the early churches in Nigeria spent tithes and offerings in exotic lifestyles instead of investing in extremely affordable schools and hospitals?
I will admonish CAN and its leadership to heed to the declaration of Osaro Eghobamien, a senior advocate of Nigeria and a Christian that “objections to Islamic banking in Nigeria is a result more from a lack of understanding of what the banking products are really about and how the system works. “You see, all the leading banks in the world provide Islamic banking desk. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. But maybe we need education. I have heard some inflammatory comments from very senior leaders in Nigeria. It just demonstrated ignorance because they need to ask what it entails. It is only a product that is being delivered by a bank and you have a choice.”
It was remarkable that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi declared on the floor of the House of Representatives that the second highest shareholder of Jaiz International Bank is an Igbo man. He also stated that about 60% of the shareholders are Igbos. The point he was making must have been lost on linear thinkers without deep analysis. It is a fact that the Ndigbo is the most homogenous ethnic group in terms of religion in this country. Sanusi’s point was clear: THE IGBO MAN IS A BUSINESS MINDED INDIVIDUAL THAT TAKES ECONOMIC DECISIONS WITHOUT SENTIMENTS. YOU CAN GIVE HIM THE WHOLE WORLD, BUT HE CAN NEVER BATTER HIS BELOVED CHRISTIANITY FOR ANYTHING.
Finally, is CAN involved in shadow boxing on behalf of anti Sanusi elements? CAN is knowingly or unknowingly fighting the battle of discredited bank chiefs and their collaborators. What was the position of CAN president when Erastus Akingbola and Cecelia Ibru, both high profile Christians milked the deposits of fellow Christians? Akingbola in particular was a senior church elder at the time and introduced morning Christian fellowships in all branches of the bank. All these notwithstanding, the bank was looted by this man and CAN was mute. That is not the way to lead the flock. My last question is why didn’t the CAN leadership demand for audience with the CBN governor instead of playing to the gallery?
Kelechi Eme Writes