By Salisu Ibrahim Fagge, Kano
This is a wakeup call to JAIZ Bank Plc. That at the time when Nigeria is encouraging cashless policy and providing funds to support the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other development banks such as the Bank of Industry (BOI), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), and a host of others, apparently, the Muslim Community who believe in abstaining from financial transactions with interests are virtually excluded from the process.
For a very long period of time, experts have agreed that Islamic and other Sharia compliant finances is key in bringing in large part of population into an organized financial sector, yet a growing number of the Muslim population are excluded due to non-availability of Islamic products, which JAIZ as a pioneer Islamic Bank in the country is yet to lead.
While Muslim community can be captured into a formal financial setting using the Islamic products, and of course contribute their quota in the nation’s development process, their distaste of usury is scaring them away from funds passing through the nation’s economic process.
In the midst of these growing challenges, one wonders where JAIZ Bank, a bank that is leading the pack in Islamic Banking in the country is. It is expected that the bank should be innovative, assertive and a platform for the teeming Muslim Community that abhor usury.
It is not enough to bear the name Islamic Bank without introducing products that go with the name. Apparently, JAIZ Bank Plc is yet to catch up with the trend elsewhere in the world, let alone satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the Nigeria Muslim Community.
Undoubtedly, Nigeria has a huge market with a lot of people that abhor bank facilities with interest who are ready to accept interest-free loans, but the leading Islamic Bank and other commercial banks that provide Islamic products are unable to catch up.
When the former CBN Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, now the Emir of Kano was launching Islamic Banking in the country, he hinted that the idea of the Islamic finances was to contribute in turning the economy into a major international financial centre.
He remarked that already, the United Kingdom had become a launching pad for hosting of the first International Islamic Banking Conference, and the development has vindicated the implementation of the policy in Nigeria and other countries around the world.
It is in view of this, I would like to call on all stakeholders to ensure speedy implementation of the process and expedite the process of partnering with development banks, so as to ensure introduction of Non-Interest Islamic Banking products and Finances in the country that would bring respite to the teeming Muslim Community. For instance, there are a lot of SME’s requiring bank facilities for their development but are unwilling to key into the current arrangement.
As Jaiz Bank Plc is proud to be the pioneer of the setting up of the first full-fledged non-interest bank in the country, the bank should also lead and become the pioneer of introducing interest-free loan in collaboration with the nation’s Development Banks, for the safe development of SME’s that prepare profit and loss sharing arrangement.
No doubt, the segment of the Muslim Community who disapproves of interest facility would be comforted in an interest free loan as public goods.
There is no “one size fits all” solution to the development of SME’s and the nation’s economy. Those who abhor bank facility with interest should be supported with the right mix that keeps their economic activities in line with their faith.
Salisu Ibrahim Fagge, Kano