By Dipo Olowookere
Federal Government has assured the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that its recently launched N100 billion Sukuk bond was not a ploy to Islamise Nigeria through the back door.
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, made this known on the sidelines of an investor conference organised by Stanbic IBTC Bank in Lagos in reaction to cries by the Christian body on the matter.
According to the Minister, several non-Arab nations issue the Islamic bond, including South Africa, the United Kingdom and others.
Mrs Adeosun explained that the bond would deepen the financial system in Nigeria, noting that proceeds from the exercise would be used to finance capital projects across the country, which would be beneficial to all.
The Finance Minister disclosed that the N100 billion Sukuk bond, which closed last Friday, was widely received by investors, who fully subscribed to it.
She said further that before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came into power in 2015, Nigeria had planed to issue the Sukuk bond about six years ago.
“Sukuk (bond) is part of our programme to deepen the financial market. Interestingly, it predated us. The committee started work in 2011.
“So, they have been working on it for six years, to structure products that would be compliant. Really, the Sukuk is about two things; one is about raising money and deepening the financial market.
“We need to include many people in the market to raise the money that is needed for infrastructure. We have already introduced the savings bond which is for small investors. They were saying that the process of getting into government securities was too complex.
“So, we made the product for them. And this is another product. We have other products that we are coming up with. So, there is no religious driver behind it. It is really a financial product to meet financial needs,” the Minister said.
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