The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, may not release funds due to banks, following the reduction of the Cash Reserve Ratio, if they failed to lend to SMEs. Governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele made the declaration at the 7th Annual Bankers’ Committee Retreat on Thursday in Lagos.

The CBN had reduced the CRR from 25 per cent to 20 per cent in November.The CBN boss said banks had not played active roles in terms of lending to SME operators in the country.

Emefiele said the country was entering a phase where SMEs must be given priority in the nation’s growth.

He said operators in the banking industry must change, rethink and behave in ways that banks could support the SME sector.

The CBN Czar said the economies that withstood the global shocks were SME-driven countries.

Emefiele said the CBN would soon unveil a scheme that would assist young graduates to unleash their potential on their chosen fields.

He said the apex bank planned to come up with a scheme to assist young graduates with loans that would allow them work and pay back.

The Governor said the scheme would be different from the existing N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund launched in 2013.

“We need to begin to agitate our minds and consider how we can support the young minds. Let’s give them a chance.

The details of SME programme is going to be separate from the N220 billion.

I am saying if you refuse to support, your money that we would have released through the CRR, we will take that money and lend it through any channel that will give these young graduates jobs.

We all need to think together and agree because there is no need to release the money to you and all you do with the money is buy treasury bills.

It can’t continue. We need to agitate our minds; we need to think about the best ways to diversify this economy away from oil.

“We need to get more and more people to be employed and we would need the support of the banks to begin to see how we lower our risk acceptance criteria to give support to our young

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