From Ezeocha Nzeh
Ahead of the September 19 governorship elections in Edo state, Edo State Concerned Farmers Association has asked the governor, Godwin Obaseki to account for the associations alleged missing N75m loan to it
The group which staged a peaceful protest, Monday in Abuja also petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and leadership of the National Assembly to intervene and persuade the governor to release the money which they said was released by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The farmers led by comrade Afeiye Muhammed claimed in the petition that none of their members got the monies in spite the fact they applied for it since 2017.
The petition was also addressed to the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chairmen of EFCC, ICPC and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
According to the 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 October 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 9 months, and till date, the proceeds from the sale of our rice have not been paid back to us.
“Additionally, the ₦69 Billion Naira CBN Loan invested into Edo State Oil Palm Programme, have been hijacked by Governor Godwin Obaseki and his cronies. Local farmers in the State were removed from the programme and replaced with Companies owned by friends of the Governor.
“Additionally, we want Nigerians to know that funds for Fadama 111 Project Additional Financing, were never disbursed to farmers in Edo State, instead Governor Godwin Obaseki and his cronies shared the funds among themselves.
“Over the years contracts for the implementation of World Bank funded projects in Edo State have been over inflated and awarded to briefcase companies owned by Governor Godwin Obaseki and his cronies. In some cases these contracts are never executed or poorly executed, after complete payments have been collected by these briefcase companies.”
The farmers called on the CBN to take urgent steps to ensure that Edo State Government, SARO Agro Sciences Limited and NIRSAL pay Edo State Farmers, proceeds from the sale of their crops between 2017 and 2019.
They also called on the CBN and World Bank as well as other financial institutions to stop further disbursement of Loans to Edo State Government, and instead carry out a thorough investigation into how previous loans between 2016 and 2020 were spent, and those responsible for embezzling these Loans should be prosecuted and made to refund the stolen funds.
Continuing, they noted: “We plead with the Governor of CBN and the Country Director of World Bank, not to cover up these fraudulent activities in Edo State, but to immediately commence a thorough forensic investigation in partnership with the EFCC, ICPC and Civil Society Groups in Edo State, and those found to have misappropriated these funds should be prosecuted.”