Ahead of kick-starting the proposed National Microfinance Bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), plans to engage architects for the remodeling of the Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST) buildings needed for the project.
The Guardian learnt that the project is expected to throw up jobs for the nation’s real estate professionals, especially, architects, engineers, estate surveyors and builders. New structures may also be built while the old facilities are expected to be reconstructed.
Sources hinted last week that the architects and other professionals needed for the projects will be hired by CBN from its pool of consultants. The property arm of the Nigerian Postal Service is expected to involve their in-house officials in some aspects of the remodeling exercise.
Specifically, the buildings form the equity contribution of the postal system to the bank, which is expected to have an initial capital base of N5 billion. About 774 local councils have been penciled down for the project. The pilot phase will take off in six states and Abuja, namely Oyo, Rivers, Bauchi, Kaduna, Enugu and Kogi.
The design of the structure will include counters, strong rooms and offices for the banking operation.
The scheme is a mechanism, which the apex bank hopes to drive financial inclusion of the people living in rural communities. With locations in all the nooks and crannies of the country, NIPOST is providing accommodation for the establishment of the bank.
Confirming this development, CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said new structures will also be provided where there are none to facilitate physical contacts where necessary.
Okorafor stressed that the remodeling will be done to ensure that the buildings meet the standards set by the CBN.
He noted that the essence is to improve financial inclusion and capture those in the rural villages leveraging on the NIPOST’s presence in the 774 local councils across the country to reach its target beneficiaries.
“Nigeria is large with many rural areas without banking experience , we want to employ digital payment to reach this people in the villages and the best way to reach them is to get institutions that have a footprints like NIPOST that spread throughout the 774 local councils. So what the CBN and Bankers committee has done is to register a company, a micro finance bank that has footprints across 774 local councils . Wherever there is a physical building of NIPOST already, we will remodel it and use it, if there is none, we will use fabricated building”, he added.
A NIPOST official, Musa Suleiman, an engineer, said the agency will do all the major maintenance while the CBN will remodel the areas allocated to it for the banking services.
According to him, in-house staff will undertake other remodeling, rehabilitation and or redevelopment on PPP scheme of abandoned Staff housing projects/quarters nationwide for the use of the micro finance scheme.
Suleiman, noted that although the real intention is for the whole country, about 50 are already functional right now in Kaduna, Makurdi, Lokoja, Gwagwalada, Benin, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Bauchi, and other places across the country.
“Internally we have architects, but the CBN are engaging architects outside for their own remodeling, the architects that work for them.
“Once in a while we hold meetings with them, they have departments that engages architects, we used to have meetings, especially when they have challenges”, he said.
NIPOST, which currently has 44 out of 162 formally abandoned projects across the country were chosen for the CBN Micro finance projects under the Financial inclusion policy of the CBN and its micro Finance company because of its wide reach.
According to the General Manager of NIPOST, Mrs. Toyin Oyelola, “the project is a PPP arrangement, which covers all the 774 Local Government Areas of the country, using it as major driver for the project to meet the needs of Nigerians.”