House of Representatives on Friday summoned the Management of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) to appear before it to clear issues on the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP).
BOA is also asked to appear before the House Committee alongside all the farmers who took loans from the bank under the Anchor Borrower Programme.
Members of the committee during the visit expressed dismay that, beneficiaries of the Anchor Borrower Programme have complained bitterly to the their committee about BOA’ s handling of the ABP fund, saying that, there about 30 petitions on the Committee’s table against BOA.
A member of the Committee and member of the House of Representatives representing Bama/Ngala/Kalabalge constituency from Borno State, Dr. Zainab Gimba raised concern that farmers from the North-East like Dili-Biu, Daru Farm, Gorea Farm, Shiltam Farm and Dr. Mohammed Dogo, were not happy with the BOA.
She pointed out that, the farmers have complained to her office and the Committee that, they were finding it difficult to access loan under ABP from BOA.
Hon. Zainab Gimba who lamented that, the BOA seems to be frustrating the Federal Government’s efforts towards resettling the people North-East affected by the insurgency, through Agriculture, said the Bank needs to go back to its core mandate.
He said, it is a total lie to say that, the BOA has not been releasing fund to the farmers in the North-East, saying that, many of the farmers have taken loan in billions of Naira under the Anchor Borrower Programme without paying back.
According to him, “we are collaborating with the National Refuge Commission to help resettle those that have been displaced through Agriculture. Last year, we made donation of rice, blanket and other materials to support those people. We have also signed a MoU with North East Development Commission and agreed on key areas of mechanisation, production and so on, to see how we can support them.
“On the issue of Anchor Borrower, let me say that, people are good at telling lies. Once people don’t get what they want, they would just distort every other thing. So many people have taken loan and they have refused to pay. Let me take Dili-Biu for example, we gave them about three billion Naira in 2018 and it has since expired, but they have not paid anything back. The only recovery captured in paper is five per cent recovery and that five per cent is equity contribution from the farmers. We have been following them, nothing has happened. Suddenly, N600 million came in from Central Bank and then they started mounting pressure on us to release to them. We now said, what happened to almost N3 billion that we gave you? At least demonstrate commitment by paying back what we have given.
“Both the Central Bank and the beneficiaries put pressure on us to disburse, disburse and disburse and at the end of the day, when recoveries are not made we are the one that face the difficulties when we are getting the farmers to repay. Then, we asked Dili-Biu, how are you going to pay the one you are owing, let us not even talk about the N600 million, they said had over 40,000 bags in various warehouses. Then we asked our people to go and investigate, they only found about 14,000 bags. Despite that, we looked at the potentials and gave them N134 million and asked them to pay back to the CBN, because we don’t want to carry the burden of recovery.
“Also, Daru took about N600 million and the project was supposed to be in Biu in Borno State, but after one year of not paying anything back, he flagrantly transferred the project to Taraba State without approval of the CBN, which is a requirement under the ABP,” the BOA MD explained.
He explained that Bank has suffered in silence for long from poor recovery from beneficiaries, while CBN in the other hand had often stampeded the Bank to disburse money to farmers.
The Committee however asked the Bank to appear before it on a date to be communicated to it later.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Muntari Dandutse however said the bank should appear before it along with all its debtors, as well as those who have applied for loans and did not get it.