- Southwest stakeholders accuse Abdulhammed of ethnic agenda
- One of the objectives of NIRSAL is using holistic approach to tackle the challenges in the agricultural and financial value chains, but farmers allege that corrupt officials have turned it into a moneymaking opportunity.
Per Second News
Fresh facts have emerged on how the Managing Director of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL), Mr. Aliyu Abbati Abdulhammed, circumvented due process by misappropriating a princely N342 million released to NIRSAL by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under its Anchor Borrowers’ programme (ABP) for a Southwest maize farmers’ cooperative, Hope Concept Investment Cooperatives and Credit Union.
The fund, which was approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria and released in July, last year to NIRSAL, for onward disbursement to about 1,800 small holders’ farmers that makeup the union, was for preparation of land and planting of maize during the rainy season.
The CBN had reportedly credited NIRSAL on July 18 and 19, 2018 with a first tranche of N246, 523,120:00 but instead of NIRSAL to remit the fund to the bona fide farmers that were registered with and approved by the CBN as beneficiaries, Abdulhammed directed that the fund be transferred to NIRSAL’s operations office in Abeokuta.
It was learnt that Abdulhammed tweaked the mandate of NIRSAL from risk-management to operating as a commercial bank. The concerned farmers were asked to apply afresh for the fund as a loan, a development they kicked against.
The concerned maize farmers/beneficiaries were subsequently subjected to a long delay that NIRSAL masterminded through a series of unnecessary meetings, trainings and workshops while the fund was idle in NIRSAL’s account, attracting huge interest.
Sources close to the development hinted that many weeks, which the farmers would have used to deploy in the farms were lost, a development that disrupted timelines for cultivation and harvest of maize for off-taking by companies that make use of maize in the production of their goods.
The off-takers, the biggest of them being the Four Mills Plc, as gathered, had to source for maize (raw materials) from other farmers when the beneficiary farmers under the aegis of Hope Concept Investment Cooperatives and Credit Union could not meet up with the timelines for supply of maize.
Investigations by Per Second News disclosed that while the concerned southwest farmers waited in vain for their respective accounts to be credited with the funds, officials of NIRSAL requested the farmers to part with some of the funds before disbursing. Due to the corrupt practices of the NIRSAL officials the farmers lost over N600 million naira, excluding funds spent on clearing the lands, interest on loans and other cost.
Upon approval of Hope Concept’s request, the group also fulfilled the payment of a requisite N16 million equity counterpart funding, which is 5 percent of the financing.
Per Second News gathered that the farmers were supposed to supply about 6,000 MT of Maize to Flour Mills Plc.
One of the concerned southwest maize farmers alleged ethnic bias and deliberate promotion of a northern economic expansionist agenda against Abdulhammed who hails from Adamawa State and whose appointment was said to have been influenced by the first lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari.
Consequently, it became difficult, as gathered, for senior officials in the apex bank to rein in Abdulhammed over his questionable act and other impunities including misappropriation of funds and abuse of processes in the contract awards, among others.
Officials are aware of the various infractions perpetrated by the Managing Director of NIRSAL, according to feelers, but are acting cautiously in order not to rock the boat especially as Abdulhammed drops the name of the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, at every turn.
Meanwhile, the farmers are demanding compensation for time lost, funds spent on clearing the lands, other financial costs including the counterpart funding and interest on loans.
NIRSAL under the current leadership has huge reputational problems as it has also been accused of withholding a N1 billion intervention fund in Owerri, Imo State and another in Delta State.
At a public event recently in Abuja, farmers from Kojoli farms in Jada, Adamawa, called for the overhauling of NIRSAL, citing huge scale corruption in the running of the affairs of the organization.
The lack of transparency in the workings of the NIRSAL leaves much to be desired. Besides the fact that it makes nonsense of the president’s anti-corruption crusade, it further exposes the current government’s inability to adequately monitor public officers.
NIRSAL’s thriving culture of corruption
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