Prospective beneficiaries of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Rice Anchor Borrowers programme, in Benue State, have accused the handlers of lack of transparency and deliberately frustrating their efforts to access the loan.
This is contrary to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive last June that CBN should extend the ‘Anchor Borrowers’ programme in rice production to all states in the north, including Benue, Cross River, Anambra and Ebonyi States, so as to ensure food sufficiency in the country.
The Guardian learnt that while other benefiting states have gone far into cultivation of rice, it is a different ball game in Benue, where over 20,000 farmers are supposed to benefit.
The alleged indifference of the handlers of the program, has sparked off protests by the farmers, who stormed the state Ministry of Agriculture in their hundreds, accusing the state government of fraud.
They alleged that the funds approved by the Federal Government must have been shared among those close to the seat of power in the state, to frustrate the intention of the central government to the farmers.
The visibly angry farmers who carried green leaves and placards with different inscriptions, marched through major streets in Makurdi and headed to the CBN’s branch office at the state capital, before heading to the ministry of agriculture to press home their demands.
While at the CBN office, the farmers sought to know the cause of the delay in the disbursement of either the funds or the rice inputs, but were told by the officials that a lady, whose name was withheld, was the anchor person, working hand in hand with the ministry of agriculture, and she was responsible for the delay.
Lamenting their ordeal, the spokesperson of the farmers, Mr. Emmanuel Kaase, said they were told by the state government to assemble in Makurdi, on Monday, July 25, to collect their inputs, but nothing was given to them after hiring vehicles to arrive there.
Kaase, who expressed worry that the time of cultivating rice is gradually, winding up, wondered why the inputs were yet to be distributed to them, adding that if nothing is done immediately, there would be low yield this year.