YENAGOA – The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the Bayelsa State Government has keyed into the CBN’s Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) in which over N2.2billion had been disbursed to 2,000 beneficiaries in the state.
The apex bank made the clarification during a courtesy visit of its Yenagoa Branch Controller, Mr Francis Ene-Asuquo, and his team to Governor Douye Diri at the Government House in Yenagoa on Monday.
A press release by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted Ene-Asuquo as saying Bayelsa had fully bought into the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme which had propelled farmers to establish themselves into clusters in the state.
He also stated that N600million 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.
On the N3billion agricultural loan fraud allegation peddled 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.
He 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.
Oruyeigha insisted that the process had been transparent and that the balance of N61, 699,211.80million was intact.
He said, “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 N40million 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.”
Oruyeigha further stated that 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.
According to him, the loan was structured into milestones from land preparation to planting, weeding and harvest.
In his remarks, Diri said his administration would continue to partner the CBN to actualise the objectives of his prosperity agenda for the state.
He said stressed that the agric loan was already being processed before his administration came on board and that he would not be deterred by those trying to cause a rift between him and his predecessor.
The governor said, “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 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 N3billion is being managed.
“It is not managed by the state government. There are no funds in the Bayelsa State government treasury concerning the N3billion. It is managed by the CBN and the Access Bank.”