Leadership (Abuja)

9 September 2012

Nigeria: Ondo, Taraba Deny Getting FG's N200 Billion Agriculture Loan

Despite claims by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that Taraba and Ondo states were beneficiaries of the federal government 's N200 billion Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, the two states have denied knowledge of the scheme talk more of accessing the loan. In a CBN document obtained from the information department of the Ministry of Agriculture, the two states are listed as having benefited from the scheme.

However, the Taraba State government, according to the state commissioner for agriculture, Mr. Anthony Jerason, has no information about the development. The commissioner who spoke to our correspondent said he had no knowledge at all whether such loan was given to states by the federal government or not.

The commissioner, who is currently on casual leave, told our correspondent that it was stupid of anybody from Abuja where the loan was supposed to be dispensed to states to assign any journalist to come down to Taraba to enquire about the loan.

He stated, It's stupid and foolish of whoever that asked you from Abuja to come to Taraba State and get information about a loan that was supposed to be given by federal government in the same Abuja that your person and federal government are living together.

"Why can't the person go to the office where he claimed the loan was supposed to be given to ask whether Taraba has gotten her own? Why can't he go to verify which and which state was given? That is foolish enough of whoever sent you to me.

In the same vein, the Ondo State government denied knowledge of the N200 billion agric intervention funds.

Ondo, which is one of the states with a high number of farmers, said it was yet to be informed about the intervention programme being sponsored by the CBN, not to talk of giving to farmers.

In the state Ministry of Agriculture, Akure, the officer in-charge of agriculture and rural Development, Mr Ayenigbara, told our correspondent that the last loan facility accessed by farmers in the state was the N1billion provided by the federal government to boost agricultural production in the country.

He stated that the latest the state knew about agric programme in the apex bank was the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), which he said was the desk created by the bank to ensure farmers get whatever that is due for them and check underhand dealings.

He, however, stated that the commissioner and all his team in the ministry would be glad to receive such intervention as it would go a long way to make farming easier for the farmers. He added: "But I want you to know is that no underhand dealing is tolerated in the disbursement of loans meant for farmers in Ondo State."

All efforts to get the commissioner for agriculture, Mr Ademola Olorunfemi, proved abortive as he neither picked the phone calls put across to him, nor replied his text and email messages.

Also in what appears as a subtle denial, Kwara State has said that while it has applied for the loan, it is yet to receive the funds.

This is despite the inclusion of the state as a beneficiary by the CBN. The state's commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Chief Bode Olayemi, disclosed this to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY yesterday in a telephone interview.

He said although the state government has since applied for the apex bank's agricultural credit facility, it was yet to access it.

Olayemi appealed to the authorities concerned to expedite action on the release of the fund to the benefiting states.

He said Kwara, more than any other state, needed the fund to further improve on the commercial agriculture initiative it launched in Shonga, Edu local government area of the state, since 2004.

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