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FG Targets Universal Financial Access, Unveils Aso Accord on Economic and Financial Inclusion*

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The federal government has unveiled the Aso Accord on Economic and Financial Inclusion, a multi-pronged blueprint designed to achieve universal access to financial services across Nigeria.

Leveraging comprehensive policy reforms and strategic investments, the Aso Accord charts a roadmap to bridge the significant gaps that have left millions of Nigerians, particularly underserved segments like women, youth, rural communities, and small businesses, without vital financial services like credit, insurance, pensions, and savings facilities.

The accord, signed on Thursday, 25th April 2024 at the State House Banquet Hall, represents a core pillar of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda to transform the nation into a $1 trillion economy by 2030 while combating poverty and insecurity through broad-based prosperity.

According to a communique issued at the end of the two-day National Stakeholders’ Workshop on Economic and Financial Inclusion by the Technical Advisor to the President on Financial Inclusion, Dr. Nurudeen Abubakar Zauro, “Financial inclusion is an imperative, not just an economic objective, but a moral calling to unlock opportunities for every Nigerian to achieve their potential.”

Dr. Zauro whose office spearheaded the initiative said, “The Aso Accord provides a robust framework to democratize access to finance, empower entrepreneurs and catalyse sustainable economic growth from the bottom up.”

Key elements of the accord include establishing a high-level Presidential Council to spearhead reforms, potentially through an Executive Order, and prioritizing innovative solutions, including government-to-person (G2P) programs to directly invest in underserved communities.

It also aims to integrate financial literacy into the national curriculum, bridging the digital divide by strengthening ICT infrastructure nationwide, addressing gender gaps, rural exclusion, regional gap in the Northern Nigeria, enhancing service delivery for small businesses and low-income citizens, and fostering collaboration across the public and private sectors, as well as different levels of government.

The accord was signed by Vice President Kashim Shettima; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Yemi Cardoso and National Security Adviser of Nigeria, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, signed the Accord on behalf of the 36 states, while the Managing Director/CEO of Sterling Bank PLC, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, signed on behalf of the private sector.

The two-day national workshop culminated in key resolutions that align the Aso Accord with the overall National Financial Inclusion Strategy, including leveraging technology for last-mile service delivery, promoting financial literacy, addressing gender and regional disparities, and strengthening digital infrastructure nationwide.

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