Edo farmers protest non-payment of proceeds from 2 years entrepreneurship programme



Edo farmers protest non-payment of proceeds from 2 years entrepreneurship programme

Edo farmers, who enrolled in recent Federal Government’s World Bank Agricultural entrepreneurial programme, on Monday in Abuja staged a protest to demand for payment of their two years entitlements.

The protesters under the aegis of Edo State Concerned Farmers Association were seen expressing their grievances with placards bearing different inscriptions.

Some of the placards were seen with inscriptions as: “Obaseki stop defrauding Edo farmers; EFCC rescue us; NIRSAL fraud in Edo State must stop; EFCC take action.”

Addressing newsmen, the co-Coordinator, Mr Abdul Muhammad, said the protest was staged to call the attention of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Country Director of World Bank and well-meaning Nigerians to their concern.

Muhammad, who said a petition was sent to CBN added that it would also be sent to World Bank, National Assembly and other stakeholders as the development was disheartening.

He alleged that farmers in the state had not seen the dividends of CBN Agricultural loans as well as loans from the World Bank, as expected from the Edo State Government, for the past two years.

“We want Nigerians to know that since 2017 till date the Central Bank of Nigeria has given over 75 billion Naira Agricultural Loans to Edo State Government for further disbursement to farmers.

“In 2017 we participated in the Agripreneur programme in Sobe, Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State, where we planted and harvested maize.

“However, since the harvest three years ago, till date we are yet to receive proceeds from the sale of our maize by Edo State Government and SARO Agro Sciences Limited.

“In 2019 we also participated in the Agripreneur programme in Agenegbode, Etsako East Local Government Area, where we planted and harvested rice.

“Since the harvest in Oct. 2019, Edo State Government and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), took our rice for processing and sale in Abakaliki.

“However, we have waited in vain for nine months, and till date, the proceeds from the sale of our rice have not been paid back to us.”

The co-coordinator further alleged that, “the N69 billion CBN Loan invested into Edo State Oil Palm Programme, has been hijacked.

“Local farmers in the state were removed from the programme and replaced.

“Additionally, we want Nigerians to know that funds for `Fadama 111 Project Additional Financing’ were never disbursed to farmers in Edo State.

“Over the years contracts for the implementation of World Bank-funded projects in Edo State have been over inflated and awarded to briefcase companies.

“In some cases these contracts are never executed or poorly executed, after complete payments have been collected by these briefcase companies.

“We also to call on CBN to take urgent steps to ensure that Edo State Government, SARO Agro Sciences Limited and NIRSAL pay Edo State farmers the proceeds from the sale of their crops between 2017 and 2019.

“Finally, we are calling on CBN and World Bank as well as other financial institutions to stop further disbursement of Loans to Edo State Government.”

The group called for thorough investigation into how previous loans between 2016 and 2020 were spent, adding that perpetrators should be called to book.

“We plead with the Governor of CBN and the Country Director of World Bank, to immediately commence a thorough forensic investigation in partnership with the EFCC, ICPC and Civil Society Groups in Edo State.

“Those found to have misappropriated these funds should be prosecuted.”

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that some of the farmers while speaking with newsmen decried the hardship they faced due to the development.

Miss Adela Amiekhamhe, a graduate of Auchi polytechnic, said the development was a disappointment to the youth who were often advised to embrace agriculture.

Amiekhamhe, who was a beneficiary of the 2019 agricultural loan, called for urgent measures to nip the problem in the bud, saying “I am disappointed.”

Another beneficiary, Miss Ifeanyi Victoria, said they were given five hectares of land each to cultivate rice after which it would be sold and their entitlements given to them.

She noted that since the harvest nothing was heard from the necessary authorities stressing that effort to reach those concerned failed.

She pleaded with the Federal Government to come to their aid.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Cecilia John

Cecilia John: NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. We are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and we strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor @ Disclaimer.

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