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- Category: Politics
- Published on Friday, 22 July 2011 16:24
- Written by Turaki A. Hassan
- Hits: 1203
Members of the House of Representatives yesterday endorsed the introduction of Islamic non-interest banking system in the country in line with regulations by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Sanusi was invited following a motion urging the House to seek explanations on the apex bank’s cash withdrawal limit and its licensing of non-interest banking in the country.
The CBN governor arrived in the House chambers at about 11:30am and spoke for about two hours, explaining that the non-interest banking system was not going to discriminate against non-Muslims and that it was simply aimed at economic development.
Apparently impressed by Sanusi’s explanations, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha, who presided over the session, told the CBN governor that “a number of us, if not all of us, are satisfied with your presentation. We are better enlightened now on the issues.”
Earlier, the lawmakers intermittently applauded as the CBN governor spoke.
Sanusi had come under fire over the past one month regarding the non-interest banking system, especially from the Christian Association of Nigeria.
But he said yesterday, “The CBN is not setting up an Islamic bank; neither is it advertising an Islamic bank. Islamic banking is not biased; it is open to all faiths.”
He told the lawmakers that his predecessor Prof. Charles Soludo, more than any other CBN governor, did a lot to actualise the emergence of Islamic banking, which he added was in accordance with the provisions of the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act of 1991.
Sanusi urged the political elite to desist from politicising every single government policy.
“It is unfortunate that today, every single thing is viewed as either ethnic or religious, but it won’t take us anywhere. Let us remove the product from religion because it is a universal product offered by banks. CBN gave license in principles to Jaiz on 18 October, 2005 to operate Islamic banking long before I became a governor and on 28 October, 2008 governor Soludo approved that CBN join Islamic financial services,” he said.
He said Jaiz International Bank, a non-interest bank soon to begin operations in the country, has an overwhelming number of Igbo shareholders, implying that non-Muslims have also heavily invested in Islamic banking.
“Islamic banking is just a name as it is a non-faith, non-biased and not restricted to Muslims. About 60 per cent of the shareholders of Jaiz are Igbos from the South-East. Discrimination is strictly prohibited. It is open to Christians and everybody. Islamic banking is operating in 75 countries of the world including Britain, USA, South Africa, Kenya and Malaysia,” he said.
According to him, Anambra State, a state with predominant Christian population, is the first and only state yet in the country to borrow from the Islamic Development Bank.
He said Nigeria could not afford to miss the opportunities abound in Islamic banking. “It is a 1 trillion dollar business that we have to be part of in Nigeria. Every financial system develops by bringing alternatives,” he said.
Sanusi said the non-interest banking system would enhance the critical sectors through the introduction of new financing instruments to the banking public, and would also provide financial assistance for those Nigerians who were ethically precluded from conventional banking.
Acting House Leader Rep Loe Ogor (PDP, Delta), Rep Yusuf Bala Ikara (CPC, Kaduna) and Rep Uche Ekunife (APGA, Anambra) told Daily Trust after the session that they were 100 per cent satisfied with Sanusi’s presentation and had all endorsed the introduction of non-interest banking in the country.
The decision of the lawmakers to give Sanusi the go-ahead came weeks after minister-designate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also supported the introduction of Islamic banking.
Speaking on the cash withdrawal limit being proposed, the CBN governor said the apex bank had not set any limit of amount an individual or corporate body could withdraw. He explained that customers could withdraw any amount provided they paid the amount charged on such transactions.
According to him, the proposed policy is aimed at reducing the rate of cash transactions in the industry. “The objective of the present policy on cash withdrawal is different; as it is targeted at the reduction of cash transactions in the banking industry in favour of electronic means of payment,” he said. (Daily Trust)