The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has faulted the criteria adopted by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the disbursement of agricultural loan, alleging that the apex bank denied the state access to loans over the difference in political ideology with the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC).
Wike added that criteria used by the Apex bank for loan disbursement were already politicised rather than instead of implementing such policy dispassionately to achieve the intended food security and jobs for the youths.
The governor, who made the accusation when he hosted the Minister of State for Agriculture, and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri at Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, noted that the bank’s action has denied the state its share of the central government policy to boost food production across the country.
“I think, I am one of those States that nobody gives loans for agriculture. I don’t know what hatred the Central Bank Governor has for us? We do not know.
“We have been hearing of ANCHOR borrower this and ANCHOR that. But when it concerns Rivers State, you will hear a lot of things.”
“Please tell the Governor of Central Bank to remember us too, that we are part of Nigeria. When we applied, they said this loan was N5 billion. We have applied for more than one year now. They said we should bring this and bring that.
“They said we should bring the co-operative societies and I say this where the politics come from. If I want to eat government money, I can sit here and write co-operative societies. The previous administration took a loan and said they gave it to co-operative societies of over N3 billion. Who are these corporative societies? And the money went off like that.
“And we are telling you to see the cassava processing plant that you are supposed to say we will buy into this , we will support the State government. Nothing has happened.”
Wike said even without the loans from CBN, his administration was already achieving a revolution in cassava processing that would create jobs for youths and enduring patronage for farmer folks.
“It is not in dispute that to take the country out of where we are, agriculture is key. If we are sincere with reality that agriculture will employ a lot of our youths; give them jobs and achieve food security, then we must do it in such a way that we really mean what we say.”
The governor said the State government will invite the Minister of Agriculture to commission the cassava processing plant. According to him, many companies have keyed in already to buy off what will be processed.
“We have over 3000 farmers who have registered. From them, the company will buy off all their produce. We are happy with this feat.”
Wike, meanwhile, expressed surprise over the road projects and provision of solar-powered electricity that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture claimed to have provided to rural communities in the State.
He said it is important for the State government to know where those rural roads and solar power are located so that proper recording will be done and letter of appreciation written to thank the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for the gesture.
“I am also surprised when you said you’ve done rural roads in Rivers State. I don’t know the roads you did. It is important for us to know them so that we will put it on record, that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture did this road.
“And we will be able to write to you and thank you for doing such road. If you put solar, let us also know. Except you gave it to your party people. There is no way you will do road in my State without the State government being aware.”
Wike also wondered what had become of the spate of abduction of children in succession and shortly afterwards, they are released.
“I saw breaking news, another banditry in Kaduna and taking away students and teachers. The thing is becoming funny. Yesterday, you take 300, two days after, they release them. The next morning, you take another one, the next 24 hours, they’re released.
“So, people know where they are. You take two hundred and something people in a 20 kilometres distance and nobody will know? And in the next 24 hours they’ve been released. What’s really happening?
“Can somebody tell us the truth of what’s going on. It is becoming funny. And why is it so? It is so because we politicise the issue of security.”
Earlier, Shehuri disclosed that he was in the State to inspect ongoing and completed projects that will boost rural agricultural activities under his ministry.
He said the federal government is poised to support Rivers farmers with new technology that will address the problems of low yields, allow them have access to improved varieties of cassava produce, chemical for treatment for the seeds, and crops protection.