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Fears over CBN’s method to recover N36bn loans from N’East farmers

The recent inauguration of committee in all local governments in the North-East to recover N36bn loans advanced to farmers by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has raised a serious issue bordering on how the loans were disbursed in the first instance.

Recall that the loan facility advanced to the farmers through the North-East Commodity Association (NECA) is part of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Federal Government.

Experts in loan repayment, who spoke to Business Hilights in Lagos, blamed the apex bank for giving out non-securitized loans to farmers, saying setting up committees may not do much in recovering the taxpayers’ money.

To the experts, should the money become unrecoverable, the CBN owes Nigerians serious explanations on the way and manner it disbursed it in the first instance without clear and well-spelt out securities that should not be mere setting up of federal government loan recovery committees in local governments within an insurgency ravaged state.

It was gathered that while inaugurating the committee for Borno State and its 27 local government areas on Sunday in Maiduguri, the Chairman of NECA, Alhaji Sadiq Daware, recalled that the association had made it clear to the farmers that the loans would be repaid.

He said NECA was able to secure the N36bn loan from the CBN on six different commodities, comprising rice, maize, sorghum, soya beans, sesame and cotton for farmers in the North-East.

Daware noted that Gombe State farmers got the highest amount because its farmers produced the six commodities, while 3,722 farmers in Borno State got the least amount, having only participated in one commodity (rice).

According to him, “With relative peace in Borno, we’re optimistic that at the end of the programme, we’ll be able to make substantive recovery. We expect to recover at least 80 per cent of the loans from the farmers.

“Payment of the loans will definitely allow for the continuation of the programme. If farmers receive loans without paying back, then the programme cannot be sustained.”

In his remarks, the Development Finance Officer at the CBN, Maiduguri Branch, Mahmud Nyako, said payment of the loan varied from commodity to commodity and from hectare to hectare.

While being silent on the original loan recovery policy of the apex bank on the whooping N36bn, Nyako stated that “Each farmer gets N212,000 per hectare including labour related activities.”