What CBN said Over the Alleged Fraud of N3bn Agric Loan, in Bayelsa
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) is on course in Bayelsa State,and that the allegations on fraud in the programme were untrue.
The apex bank Yenagoa Branch Controller, Mr. Francis Ene-Asuquo, and his team made the clarification during a courtesy visit to Governor Douye Diri in Government House, Yenagoa.
According to the statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted Mr. Ene-Asuquo as giving thumbs up to the state government for its investment in agriculture and for the robust partnership between both parties.
He acknowledged that for the first time since its creation, Bayelsa has fully keyed into the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme, which has propelled farmers to establish themselves into clusters in the state, stating that N600 million had been disbursed directly to poultry farmers in the state, which made it possible for them to now supply eggs to neighbouring states in commercial quantity.
Speaking on the N3 billion agricultural loan fraud allegation made by one Mr. John Idumange, a former General Manager of the Bayelsa Radio Corporation, against the state government, the CBN’s Head of Development Finance, Mr. Stanley Oruyeigha, dismissed the claim as mere speculation and outright falsehood.
Oruyeigha confirmed that N1.5 billion of the amount was disbursed in the first phase for infrastructure development, which includes completion of the cassava processing factory at Ebedebiri while in the second phase, the sum of N1.438 billion has been disbursed directly to 3,500 farmers as well as for the purchase of various agricultural inputs and that the process had been transparent and that the balance of N61, 699,211.80 was intact.
According to him “There are no issues with the N3billion agric loan to Bayelsa farmers. The first tranche of N1.5billion was meant for infrastructure and that includes land clearing. No contract of N40 million was paid to anyone. Everything about the fund is safe. Our partner bank is Access Bank.
“I want to emphasise that no money is missing nor was shared. The Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme is already a success in the state and it is on course. The land clearing is going on well. CBN is satisfied with the progress so far in Ayamasa, Angalabiri, Korokorosei, Sampou, Agbere, Amassoma and other communities. The governor has never interfered with nor manipulated the scheme since it started.” He said.
He emphasised that farmers were the direct beneficiaries and that no government official got a dime and the disbursement is being done in phases and that 75 per cent of land had been cleared by the beneficiaries.
He explained that money for the first phase was disbursed from June and not March 2020 as being speculated while that of the second phase was received on December 5, 2020 and disbursement commenced in January this year and the loan was structured into milestones from land preparation to planting, weeding and harvest.
Governor Diri in his remarks, said his government was not deterred by the activities of armchair critics as it is focused on changing the Bayelsa developmental narrative and his administration would continue to partner the CBN to actualise the objectives of his prosperity agenda for the state.
He explained that, “We are not deterred by armchair blackmailers and critics. We are focused and we want to bring prosperity to our people. One of the ways to do that is to continue the partnership with CBN in developing our agricultural potential.
“This agric loan was in the offing before we came on board and we followed it up because government is a continuum. I give credit to the former governor and the government that started this agric loan process. Assuming we did nothing about it that would have been the end of this money they are crying about.
“I was informed that our state has missed out on several other similar schemes. So, to those blackmailers, I would do more of this for the benefit of our people and our state.”
Senator Diri said he appointed credible persons into positions of trust like his Agriculture Commissioner, who himself is a farme, that his government welcomes constructive criticism that would help shape policies to develop the state.
“I have refused to say anything and allowed the system to flow. Fortunately, God has made it possible within this period for CBN to pay a courtesy visit. Before the full glare of the press, we have all heard how the N3 billion is being managed. It is not managed by the state government. There are no funds in the Bayelsa State government treasury concerning the N3 billion. It is managed by the CBN and the Access Bank.” He added.
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