By Emmanuel Ebong
Ibom Fadama Microfinance Bank Limited has commenced business operations in Akwa Ibom with a call on the management to ensure close supervision and monitoring for the realization of its objectives in the state.
The Akwa Ibom governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, who made the call at the inauguration of the bank in Uyo, also urged the management not to run the bank as a Father Christmas or a charitable organization to ensure sustainability.
Floated for the collective interest of farmers, traders, Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs (SMEs) in the state, Emmanuel emphasized the need for the bank to be managed as a business venture for the benefit of its target audience.
Governor Emmanuel, represented by the secretary to the state government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, stressed the need for the bank management to institute the Best Farmers of the Year award and also initiate an Agro-Allied festival for farmers to showcase their agricultural produce for other states to emulate.
He noted that with effective result in the management of the bank, on the part of the officials, that the best would be achieved for farmers and other interest groups in the state.
The governor noted that the inauguration of the bank would make it possible for farmers to produce more than 80 percent of food that are consumed in the state.
He explained that the constitution of Technical Committees on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Foreign Direct Investment and Ibom Deep Seaport and Ibom Industrial City,by his administration, were aimed at expanding the economic base of the state for the benefit of Akwa Ibom people and forgenerations yet unborn.
The commissioner for agriculture, Dr Glory Edet, explained that inauguration of Ibom Fadama Micro Finance Bank Limited was a manifestation of the state governments successful implementation of the 2016 World Bank Fadama III additional financing project where Akwa Ibom was rated as one of the best in the country.
Edet noted that Governor Emmanuel decided to give priority attention to agriculture because of its contributions to poverty reduction in any given society, noting that the inauguration of the bank was for farmers to derive maximum benefits and for them to see farming as a serious business venture in the state.
Ibom Fadama Micro Finance Bank Limited, she said, was not owned by the state government but a support of the state governor to farmers to operate successfully and expand their agricultural projects for the realization of food sufficiency.
The commissioner advised farmers to open accounts with the bank and as well come up with implementable agricultural schemes for them to stand a better chance of drawing down credit facilities that would enable them to expand their agricultural projects and pay back loans within a specific period of time.
The board chairman, Ibom Fadama Bank, who is also the commissioner for lands and water resources, Pastor Umo Eno, while welcoming guests, recalled that when the Fadama IIIproject was winding down, there was great need for farmers to access funds for sustainable agricultural development, being the reason for the inauguration of the bank.
Eno appreciated Governor Emmanuel for his vision and foresight in supporting farmers in Akwa Ibom through the establishment of the bank, assuring that Board members will assist Ibom Fadama Micro Finance Bank Limited to operate in line with the guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to succeed in the state.
He assured that the Board members will assist in running the bank to the best of their ability in accordance with regulations of the Central Bank of Nigeria so that the future generation will also benefit from the services of the financial institution.
The managing director of the bank, Imaobong Etuk, reasoned that agriculture stands out as the bedrock of industrial and economic growth, assuring that her management team would work hard to stimulate agricultural business and commerce in the state.
The national coordinator, FADAMA, Malah Bukar; Senior special assistant to the governor on marketing and brand management; State FADAMA coordinator, Mr. Richard Sam;State chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Prince Bassey Inwang; President, Akwa Ibom Traders Cooperative Association, Comrade Idorenyin Raphael and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) representative , Mr. Augustine Inyang, in their separate goodwill messages, applauded Governor Emmanuel for ensuring the inauguration of the bank in the interest of farmers and other interested groups, pledging their commitment to the success of the bank in the state.
They advised the bank management on the need to define a budget for human capacity development through the creation of a department for farmers training and other interest groups on how to access credit facility and ensure loans recovery within a given time frame.