The Nigerian community in the U.S. has embarked on the registration of members for its proposed Nigerian Federal Credit United Union in that country.
A credit union is a financial cooperative owned, controlled and operated by its members on the principle of people helping people and provides its members with an array of financial services including loans at competitive interest rates.
Inaugurating the exercise at the Nigerian House in New York, the Consul General, Benayaogha Okonye, said a credit union for the Nigerian community was long overdue.
Mr Okonye wondered why Nigerians resident in the U.S. had no such important financial organisation in spite of their numerical strength.
He allayed the fears of Nigerians about the fidelity of the idea and the tedious process of securing the licence, saying there was no cause for alarm.
“Nobody should be afraid of this project. It is something we have looked at. I have asked all the questions that need to be asked.
“We should know that the purpose is to empower and develop ourselves. Nobody within this system can be defrauded,” Mr Okonye said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that U.S. regulations require a minimum of 3,000 members, among other conditions, for the licensing of federal credit unions.
NAN further reports that the initiative also received the endorsement of the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations and the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDOA).
Catherine Udida, the Minister Plenipotentiary, Second Committee of the mission, said the initiative would help boost the profile of the Nigerian community.
She said the move was timely coming at a time the Federal Government was taking steps to harness the enormous financial resources of the Diaspora community for national economic development.
Mrs Udida, who represented the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, however, urged members of the steering committee to be above board.
“There must be transparency; you have to make sure you win the trust of Nigerians because this is a noble idea,’’ she said.
NIDOA’s representative, Isaac Inyang, expressed the “full support of the organisation” for the proposed credit union.
Mr Inyang, who is the Vice President of NIDOA, cautioned intending members against providing false information in the registration form.
“Authorities are closely monitoring the process; if you give even one piece of false information it will kill this dream,” he said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Steering Committee, Bello Kazeem, said that the cooperative would operate as a community bank that would provide a wide range of banking and financial services to members.
Mr Kazeem outlined the services to include money deposits; provision of personal, mortgage and car loans at competitive rates; debit and credit card services, remittances, overdraft protection, among others.
“The credit union would provide Nigerians, young and old, men and women, businesses and organisations to have a community-based bank that will tend to our needs.
“Unlike the regular banks, this financial institution would be owned by all members – you and I – and not single individuals.’’
He said the cooperative would eliminate the pains many Nigerians in the U.S. were experiencing in the process of just opening a bank account or accessing credit.
Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, inaugurated the steering committee at a conference hosted by the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, D.C, in 2018.