The Central Bank Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi says Nigeria has the potential to become Africaâ€™s Islamic banking hub.
He said this in Abuja at the 9th Executive Walimatul-Quran and 8th Nigeria Muslim Merit Award presentation, organised by Al-Habibiyyah Academy, Abuja.
Sanusi spoke on â€œIslamic Banking and the Nigerian Economy.â€ delivered on his behalf by Dr. Bashir Aliyu, his Special Advisor on Islamic Banking.
â€œNigeria is the most populous black nation in the world with a population of about 150 million.
â€œThe country boasts of a significant Muslim population, majority of who yearn for financial services,â€ Sanusi said.
According to him, the present economic reforms and favorable ranking by global rating institutions, have improved Nigeriaâ€™s profile as a viable investment destination.
â€œGiven the positive market environment and latent opportunities in Nigeria, we anticipate that Nigeria will be seen as a safe haven for investors,â€ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Islamic banking is a financial system that is based on adherence to the Shariah or Islamic law.
It offers services, products and instruments based on compliance to the Islamic law.
â€œIslamic banking is a model of non-interest banking and profit and loss sharing banking recognised by our laws in Nigeria,â€ Sanusi said.
He added that the non-interest banking system would have a significant impact on the countryâ€™s finacial system and the economy as a whole.
â€œThe introduction of non-interest banking will herald the entry of new markets and institutional players such as the Islamic money market, Islamic assets management companies, etc.
â€œThis will deepen the financial market and open up employment opportunities,â€ Sanusi explained.
On the prospects for Islamic banking in Nigeria, the CBN governor said that the large amount of cash outside the banking system had increased the opportunities for Islamic banks to thrive in the country.
He said that this was largely due to the zero-interest regime, which a number of the un-banked population may find attractive.
NAN reports that Al-Habibiyyah Academy, is an Islamic â€œthink-tankâ€ whose areas of activity include Islamic and Western education, Dawah and mosque projects as well as other Islamic activities.
The high point of the event was the conferment of a post-humous award on the late President, Umar Musa Yarâ€™Adua.
Other awardees were Justice Dahiru Mustapha (Justice of the Supreme Court), Abdullahi Dikko (Comptroller General of Customs), Sanusi (CBN Governor) as well as Alhaji Abdulraheem Oladimeji and Hajia Fatima Batarra.
About 126 students graduated from the academy.