The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), on Thursday commended the Central Bank of Nigeria over its move to grant interest free loans to farmers, small businesses in the country, saying high interest rates on loans worsening the incidence of poverty in the country.
Sultan of Sokoto, Alh. Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, stated this while reacting to Daily Trust’s report in a statement signed by Deputy Secretary-General of NSCIA, Prof. Salisu Shehu, and posted on its official website.
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He urged the CBN to use all relevant agencies and avenues, including the networks of the National Orientation Agency, radio and television programmes, among others, to educate the public on the importance of these interventions, and the procedures for accessing them.
According to him, the facilities will correct the age-long marginalization of Muslims in the country’s financial sector and other growth triggering financial interventions of the CBN due largely to the interest element that is usually involved in the schemes.
Alh. Abubakar said, “For Muslims, who constitute well over half of the country’s population, the question of avoiding interest is non-negotiable, and the majority of Muslims would opt to live in poverty rather than devour interest and face the wrath of their Creator.
“In the absence of non-interest finance, the result has been a high rate of financial exclusion among Muslims, as high as over 60% in some Muslim majority communities. This leads to worsening incidence of abject poverty.
“The implication is that without non-interest alternatives, the CBN can hardly attain its goal of 80% financial inclusion earlier targeted for 2020, nor can any meaningful poverty alleviation and economic empowerment programme be actualized in the foreseeable future.”
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