The Governor of Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has come harder on his critics who accused him of using the ‘commonwealth’ meant for the six geo-political zones of the country to develop and empower only the northern region of Nigeria.
Mr. Emefiele lamented that the critics were people from the southern part of Nigeria, a region he hails from.
According to him, ignorance of the operations of the CBN under his watch is responsible for what the critics have been spreading around regarding his job performance.
“I could remember few months after President Muhammadu Buhari assumed power in 2015, he called me to his office to inform me about his plans and vision to diversify Nigeria’s economy from dependency on oil to agriculture. He gave me that presidential mandate to swing into action immediately. He, however, told me that I must be careful that Nigerians would criticize me. Now I can see the sense in what the President warned me about in 2015,” Mr. Emefiele said at the unveiling of the Ekiti State Rice Pyramid Project and the flag off, of the Wet Season Rice Cultivation held recently in the state capital, Ado Ekiti.
The CBN Boss set the records straight by revealed for the first time in public that the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) of the CBN designed primarily to rejig agricultural practice in Nigeria favoured the southern part more than the north contrary to his critics’ claims.
The ABP was put together to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in processing and smallholder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities. At harvest, the SHF supplies his/her produce to the Agro-processor (Anchor) who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account.
The CBN Governor said: “Of between N600 Billion to N700 Billion disbursed on the programme till date, the southern part of Nigeria has received more than N300 Billion.
“I think it is high time I set the record straight so that those who criticize me will know that the CBN is not focusing on the northern region alone, but we are spreading our tentacles to cover all states of the country”.
Nigeria’s top financier also made known that “Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, has benefited to the tune of N10 Billion towards the building of a 32 tons per hour integrated rice mill plant in Imota. We have also mobilized Kogi, Kwara and Niger states to make available contagious land to produce paddy rice to feed this Imota mills”.
Mr. Emefiele further stated that “In Edo State, south-south Nigeria, over N10 Billion has been pumped into palm oil and cassava industries, N7 Billion to a company which is into ethanol production and Presco Plc, a company in the state with N20 Billion to expand palm plantations”.
He reiterated that Ekiti State had benefited from the initiative to develop dairy milk processing in partnership with Promasidor company in Ekun town, while Ondo State had received N2 Billion from the CBN. He revealed that there was no state in the southern part of the country that had not been supported through the Anchor Borrower Programme, no matter how small.
“From the south-south region where I come from, I can conveniently say that we have done so much to affect both the government, private companies, and individuals in this Anchor Borrower Programme, and I don’t think it is fair to conclude that our target is to develop the north to the detriment of the people of the south. It has been fair shares for everybody under my watch,” the CBN Governor said.
Speaking on how the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) had changed the fortune of farmers in the country, Mr. Emefiele said: “We have through this programme affected the agrarian communities across Nigeria and supported microeconomic objectives of the government. I can say that no fewer than 3, 107,890 farmers have been mobilized to cultivate 3, 801, 397 hectares of farmland across 21 different crops through participating financial institutions in 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja from the inception of the programme till date. Under the 2020 wet season, the CBN-RIFAN partnership has also financed 221, 450 farmers for the cultivation of 221, 450 hectares in 32 states in Nigeria.
“We have been able to ensure that agriculture is today a profitable venture, and CBN will continue its drive to make mechanization in agriculture our priority. I will implore the Nigerian youth to key into this. The bank stands ready to support the youth interested in agriculture for them to access credit facilities,” he emphasized.
Mr. Emefiele also revealed that the CBN was planning to create a Commodity Exchange Headquarters to help post-harvest activities to sustain the flow of produce to the markets while stopping middlemen exploitation.