Okwe Obi, Abuja
Activities at the headquarters of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), were disrupted following a protest by some persons accusing the agency of divering money meant for farmers through the Anchor Borrowers Scheme.
According to a statement released by NIRSAL’s Head of Corporate Communications, Anne Ihugba, she said the protesters carried placards with inscriptions like: ‘Anchor Borrowers Program is a lie; CBN, NIRSAL diverting farmers money, and killing them’; which she claimed to be “unsubstantiated and discredited allegations against NIRSAL, its Managing Director and the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
Ihugba, however, noted that when the protesters who “looked dirty, unkempt and spoke in Hausa language, were called for a dialogue, they admitted that were sponsored to protest against NIRSAL.
“They also admitted that they have no information about NIRSAL’s operations, the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Central Bank.
“According to them, they were at NIRSAL to do a job they were paid for by their sponsor(s) who got them a police permit.”
Ihugba described their protest as a “failed attempt to distort the facts about verified contributions of NIRSAL such as over N100 billion facilitated from the financial sector into the agricultural sector which is improving the lives of farmers across the country.”
She added: “Though NIRSAL found the inauspicious visit as an opportunity to engage and enlighten more young people on its agribusiness initiatives and the promise they hold, the protest smacked of witch-hunting and a well-crafted agenda to smear the organization.
Questioned individually, the boys admitted to belonging to no ABP tickets and were in fact recruited from Abuja and environs, particularly from areas such as Mararaba, Mabushi and Jabi. This negates the claim that they are farmers from Kebbi State.
“To be absolutely clear, all successful ABP applications for the 2019 farming seasons have been honoured by NIRSAL. As required by the guidelines issued by the Central Bank, farmers with incomplete loan documentations are prevented from accessing the funds in their accounts until they meet the obligations.”
She said the attempt was bound to fail because “facts do not lie” and the effort to discredit the institution by persons who do not mean well for the sector and the country was bound to fail.