By Obafemi Olayinka
When President Muhammadu Buhari got into the saddle as the Commander In Chief of the Arm Forces, his ‘Change’ Mantra was applauded, especially the closure of the borders.
The slogan of the Daura, Katsina State born president, was that ‘Eat What You Produce and Produce What You Eat”, was a welcome development to farmers and the nation’s agricultural architecture.
Different initiatives to better the lives of Nigerian farmers and small-scale business owners were established.
Such was the Anchor Borrower Scheme with different Farmers associations like; Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, (WFAN), National Cotton farmers Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Sorghum and its like tapped into.
Sadly, Years down the line, the Farmers and Small Scale Business Owners that once rejoiced about these initiatives are lamenting with some taking to suicide as an option, while some have gone bankrupt, with some becoming a shadow of themselves.
Reasons for this is the failure of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Commercial Banks to pay the Agro Input Suppliers the 70 Percent Upfront Payment and payment of the remaining 30 Percent later upon completion in the Anchor Borrower Scheme as Some of the Input Suppliers had taken loans from Banks and are unable to pay back, hereby forfeiting their properties.
Another reason for this is the allegation that there are sharp practices by the CBN and the Commercial Banks who are said to be corrupt.
It was also gathered that CBN officials had cleverly used some agricultural commodity Associations’ leaders to perfect their cheating strategy through the procurement of inputs, mapping and mechanization as figures were outrageously increased for self benefits against farmers.
WFAN, like other Farmer Groups got approval from the CBN to grow Wheat on 91,025 Hectares of Land to boost the Agro Economy of the Nation.
But the inability of the CBN to release funds for the Input Suppliers to commence growing of Wheat which is a seasonal product affected farmers output, as the CBN failed to release Money not until December 2021 as against the timing for growing Wheat which is October.
The Banks were said to have paid their own personal Suppliers 100 percent upfront, while some contractors are paid 70 and 80 percent simultaneously who are their cronies.
At a recovery meeting between the Late President of WFAN, Alhaji Salim Saleh, and the inputs suppliers the CBN had promised to facilitate the payment of the of the suppliers, but that didn’t come to reality.
It was however, gathered that the CBN had instructed the banks not to release money to contractors on the premise that WFAN has not done any substantial recovery and that nobody should be paid even though 100percent supply has been done.
A source disclosed that this affected the Input Suppliers who had taken loans from Banks with the hope that the CBN will release money for them were gravely affected with depression setting in for some of the Input Suppliers leading to suicidal option for some with others down with different ailments as a result of the debts incurred.
The Source also revealed that some companies that did not rendered any services such as the service providers like Mapping, Satellite Imagery, Insurance, Monitoring and Evaluation and aggregators were paid fully 100 Percent, while the Input suppliers were denied payment.
It was alleged by observers that CBN has compromised the ABP at the detriment of farmers under the premises of inputs, mapping , and mechanization procurements.
Criticisms has however trail the program of frauds, saying the CBN officials manipulated the program through their close allies in the name of inputs procurement, mapping of land and mechanization.
It was also gathered that the ABP was not properly monitored as CBN tactically disallowed Federation of Commodity Associations ( FACAN), the apex body of these associations from performing this monitoring duty that may have saved the nation all these troubles.
The Farmers and genuine inputs suppliers are calling on the President Buhari administration to call the CBN to order and let equity and justice reign as they should be paid their money.
It also wants the President to come to their aid by finding a lasting solution to this menace and save farmers from counting their losses.