What CIBN is doing to improve capacity, skills development in Nigeria’s financial services sector – Ken Opara


The President and Chairman of Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Ken Opara has enumerated in details how the Institute is strengthening capacity and skills development in the nation’s financial services sector.

Opara also commended the reform initiatives of President Bola Tinubu’s renewed hope agenda, saying it will help grow the economy.

He gave the commendation at the 16th Annual Banking and Finance Conference organized by the Institute in Abuja.

The conference is the largest gathering of banking and finance professionals in Africa. It is a platform for stakeholders in the banking and finance ecosystem to come together to drive conversation on topical issues critical to the growth and stability of the finance industry, and the economic development of the country with a view to providing insightful solutions that will impact the entire system and the economy at large.

The theme of the Conference is “Nigeria’s Economic Growth and Empowerment: The Role of the Financial Services Industry”.

Speaking on the dynamism of the nation’s financial services sector and how the Institute is ensuring its sustainability, Opara said:

“The financial services industry has remained resilient and continues to play a pivotal role in transforming the economic fortunes of the country. Indeed, the sector remains the bedrock of a thriving economy, supplying essential funds for businesses to survive and thrive. According to the World Bank, resilient, transparent, and smooth-functioning financial services systems contribute to financial stability, job creation and poverty alleviation. By facilitating access to credit, nurturing financial literacy, and advocating responsible lending, we can empower entrepreneurs to generate employment opportunities and steer economic advancement. We would like to see the financial services industry deepen their support to the real sector especially in the area of infrastructure, manufacturing etc

“The CIBN on its part has continued to be a vanguard for capacity and skills development in the financial services industry. The core focus of the Institute under my watch as the 22nd President/Chairman of Council has been the FUTURE and we believe that the FUTURE is Now. Emphasis have been placed on driving Financial innovation and transformation; Addressing industry uncertainties; Trade and finance collaboration; Unveiling pathways for membership growth; Reengineering and rebranding the industry’s business model around Gen Z and Ethical conduct and governance. In this wise, the Institute has experienced a quantum leap in its membership numerical strength adding over 18,000 members in one year with 82% of this number below the age of 27years. To further highlight this focus, the Institute held the maiden edition of its Generation Next Forum on August 3, 2023 attracting over 8,000 Gen Zs and Millennials across the country.

“The Institute is leveraging collaboration to scale, mindful of the fact that in the new digital economy, collaboration / coopetition is the order of the day. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to announce a significant collaboration between The Institute and the Lagos Business School. This partnership is designed to facilitate the Chartered Banker status for persons who have completed or pursuing MBA or the Senior Management Programme (SMP) from Lagos Business School. The first stream of the programme will commence on October 31, 2023.  Please, visit the exhibition stand for more information on this initiative which underpins our dedication to providing practical and industry-relevant professional education that enhances the careers of our members and the overall competence of people in the banking sector.

“In a bid to bridge the gap between town and gown, the Institute forged a collaboration with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to review the Curriculum for ND/HND Banking and Finance programmes. The curriculum which was last reviewed in 2004 has been in operation for 19 (nineteen) years. This review, which was carried out in February this year, ensured the infusion of contemporary, practical, professional content into the curriculum and would facilitate the production of agile, competent, and market-ready workforce for the banking industry. The Institute is also forging similar collaboration with National Universities Commission (NUC), to run Joint Conferences, seminars, and workshops as well as joint accreditation or resource verification of Banking & Finance Courses in Nigerian Universities.”

Opara expressed hope that the reforms if followed through would not only unlock the full potentials of our economy but place the nation on a recovery trajectory to drive the prosperity of the continent.

“We are delighted that Mr. President has recently reiterated the commitment of his administration to a clear vision to eradicate poverty in line with the SDGs which states that poverty should be eradicated by 2030.  We believe that the reform initiatives such as ending petrol subsidies, unifying the exchange rate, investing in infrastructure, promoting agriculture, supporting small and medium enterprises, reducing corruption, tax system reforms, encouraging foreign investment, developing human capital, and diversifying the economy if followed through with diligent implementation and execution, we will not only unlock the full potentials of our economy but place the nation on a recovery trajectory to drive the prosperity of the continent.

“In addition, we encourage the national government to put in place measures to boost export expansion through the creation of a favourable export climate, reduction of trade barriers, strengthening the rule of law, and increasing investment in infrastructure, specifically, addressing inadequate power supply and transportation, and supporting the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). To support the SMEs to drive the expected economic activities, the government should revisit the Common Facilitation Centre (industrial park) for SMEs as well as special intervention fund for SMEs. We also believe that a special dedicated fund to support the processing of agro-allied products will boost export earnings.”