By Daniel Idonor

ABUJA — THE National Economic Council, NEC, comprising the 36 state governors and key officials of the Federal Government with Vice President Namadi Sambo yesterday berated Nigerian banks over their inability to ensure the steady disbursement of the N200 billion agriculture loan to farmers.

The N200 billion facility was approved in 2009 by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua to help small and medium scale farmers improve agricultural productions and guarantee food security in the country.

NEC expressed regret that the remaining balance of N130 billion was yet to be disbursed and promised to look into the worries of farmers over their inability to access the fund despite several efforts to get banks release the money

Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting, Governors Rotimi Amaechi and Murtala Nyako of Rivers and Adamawa states respectively, said more lasting machinery was being put in place for the disbursement of the controversial loans to farmers.

NEC also deferred presentation of the report on the proposed sovereign wealth fund which was expected to be submitted at its yesterday’s meeting by a committee of governors headed by the Finance minister.

According to Amaechi, “one of the issues discussed is that we reviewed the N200 billionv commercial agriculture credit scheme with CBN and the banks and we looked at the fact that a lot of people are not able to access the scheme.

“N70 billion has been disbursed, remaining N130 billion.  A lot of the problems are emanating from the banks as most states that are being given their ISPO are not able to access it for one reason or the other and that is why a committee has been set up to look at what the problems are and how to find a solution to ensure that forthwith, we are moving forward to achieve the objective of food security,” he said.

The committee which will be chaired by Lamido Sanusi, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has six state governors, Ministers of Finance and Agriculture as members and they have been mandated to work out the modalities for the easy disbursement of the credit to the respective beneficiaries.

Diplomatic passports
Nyarko said the council also discussed the issue of who is entitled to hold official and diplomatic passports and directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to conduct proper research to determine who is entitled to them.

“We also had a presentation on the issue of the passport public officers will hold and the category of persons that could hold them, the diplomatic status and the official passport. After the presentation we felt there was a need for further studies. So we asked the minister to go back and do proper research and work with the minister for foreign affairs and do a fresh joint presentation at the next meeting,” he said.


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