The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System For Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has restated its commitment to fulfill its mandate of enhancing various agricultural projects lending despite some complaints about its operations by some groups.
The commitment came against the backdrop of recent allegations by some aggrieved groups that the agency was not taking care of all sectoral groups in its disbursement of funds.
However, the NIRSAL in a statement issued today by its Head, Corporate Communications, Anne Ihugba, described such allegations as a vicious and well-funded campaign of disinformation and blackmail against it.
NIRSAL clarified that its mandate from the Central Bank of Nigeria was to deploy its risk management mechanisms, its nationwide footprint, its partnership with Channel Partner Banks and its technical capacities to directly empower farmers by de-risking agriculture and facilitating agribusiness, with the ultimate objective of boosting agricultural productivity and food security in the country.
The agency point out that in pursuit of this objective, it had disbursed and continues to disburse ABP funds to thousands of genuine and verified farmers across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT under the ABP.
It also assured that to make it easier for legitimate farmers to access approved funds, it would continue to make direct disbursement to qualified farmers accounts, who have fulfilled all necessary conditions precedent to such support.
NIRSAL stated further: “The notion that NIRSAL, under undue pressure, will release monies meant for innocent smallholder farmers – most of whom are of low-income status in rural areas- to conscienceless middlemen, blackmailers and propagandists is antithetical to everything NIRSAL stands for and synonymous with Corruption.
“We are by this notice alerting genuine farmers and farmer associations not to allow these dishonest elements who have become ubiquitous, to continue their nefarious activities to deprive you or your associations of legitimate credit support from the CBN and Federal Government under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
“We are also alerting the media and public to the existence of these nefarious persons and groups through this disclaimer and urge anyone who is in doubt to reach NIRSAL through the contact information below for information or clarification”, the agency added.
NIRSAL accused the critics that in an effort to invest their bogus claims with invented credibility, they had been making the rounds of media houses with false claims that NIRSAL, itself a CBN-owned entity, is holding up funds released by the CBN under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
This is just as it claimed that some of them had even gone as far as organizing anti-NIRSAL protests and press conferences, citing documents that were still undergoing processing and funds yet to be released by the CBN while others have also been busy whipping up sentiments against NIRSAL amongst farmers, who they claim to represent.
NIRSAL clarified further: “Our investigations reveal that among these elements are so-called “leaders” of farmers’ groups who did not meet the relevant criteria for participation in the ABP through the NIRSAL PFI window, by filing up registers of “cooperatives” they formed with fake names and unidentifiable persons. In this category also, are so-called “farmers” who do not have farmlands.
“It is interesting to note that the farmers who failed credit checks are the ones being used to mount these negative campaigns and protests. It is this latter category of “farmers” that are conniving with these so-called “aggregators” to confuse genuine farmers on the procedures and processes of accessing the CBN ABP facility.
“We also have information that some “aggregators” have fraudulently collected monies from farmers promising to deliver loan facilities through the CBN ABP and other NIRSAL funding windows”, it added.
According to the agency, the objective of the campaign which is being waged on several media platforms is clear: to intimidate the corporation into releasing funds to unqualified and unverified entities under the NIRSAL window of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
NIRSAL however promised that the campaigns of calumny will fail it took its mandate from Central Bank of Nigeria too seriously to fall for underhand and unethical tactics.
It pointed out that as an agricultural finance risk management institution, NIRSAL had no intention of compromising its internal processes or the ABP guidelines by falling for these shenanigans.