By Chris Ndibe
Prof. Abdulrazaq Alaro, the Head of the Department of Islamic Law, University of Ilorin, has advised Nigerians to key into the opportunities that abound in the non-interest finance sector of the economy.
Alaro, who is also a member of the Financial Regulatory Advisory Council of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), gave this advice while speaking with newsmen in Ilorin on Tuesday.
He said that there were 13 non-interest schemes, from which different categories of Nigerians could benefit.
The don listed the different areas to include the creative industry financial initiative for youths, without any required collaterals but only a National Youth Service Corps Certificate (NYSC) and a guarantor.
Alaro noted that the non-interest financial sector, which is known as Islamic finance in some other climes, was quite new in Nigeria.
According to him, the sector has lots of promises for potential investors, given its prospects for growth and development.
He said that while the biggest non-interest financial institution in Nigeria was worth just about one billion dollar, its counterparts in Saudi Arabia was worth about $100 billion.
Alaro added that the first of such bank in the world, was based in Dubai, which worth about $70 billion.
According to the don, the non-interest financial sector is open to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike and urged all to key into its opportunities as a means of addressing poverty and making legitimate earnings.
He explained further that the non-interest unit of the World Bank, called Islamic Banking, was headed by a Nigerian Christian.
On the major differences between the Islamic financial sector and the conventional financial sector, he said, “the non-interest sector works as a partnership that is founded on ethics and participation of all parties”.
Alaro observed that while about 1,500 non-interest financial institutions existed in more than 80 countries around the world, Jaiz Bank and the recently licensed Taj Bank, were the only full fledged non-interest commercial banks in Nigeria.
He, however, said that the windows of non-interest financing also existed at Sterling Bank and Sun Trust Bank.
The don explained that with the Nigeria’s huge population advantage, its financial inclusion would be improved and enhanced than it was currently doing.
He lamented that in spite of being the largest economy in Africa, about 30 per cent of Nigeria’s adult population were financially excluded while a country like South Africa, with much smaller population had a rate of only seven per cent financial exclusion.