By Egufe Yafugborhi – Port Harcourt
Governor Nyesom Wike on Monday accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of denying Rivers state access to its agricultural loans.
The Governor who raised the accusation before visiting Minister of State for Agriculture, and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri at the Government House, Port Harcourt, fingered CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele as playing politics with the loans.
Wike told Shehuri, “I think Rivers is one of those states nobody gives loans for agriculture. I don’t know what hatred the CBN Governor has for us? We’ve been hearing of ANCHOR borrower this and that, but when it concerns Rivers, you hear a lot of things.
“Please tell the Governor of CBN to remember us too, that we are part of Nigeria. When we applied, they said this loan was N5 billion. We have applied for more than one year now. They said we should bring this, bring that.
“They said we should bring co-orporative societies and this is where the politics comes from. If I want to eat government money, I can seat here and write coorporative societies. Previous administrations took loan and said they gave it to coorporative societies of over N3billion.
“Who are these corporative societies? And the money went off like that. And we are telling you see the cassava processing plant that you are supposed to say we will buy into this, we will support the state government. Nothing has happened.
“It’s not in dispute that to take the country out of where we are, agriculture is key. If we are sincere with the reality that agriculture will employ a lot of our youths and achieve food security, then we must do it in such a way that we really mean what we say.”
He hinted that Rivers government will invite the Minister of Agriculture to commission the state’s, explaining that, “We have over 3000 farmers who have registered. From them, the company will buy off all their produce. We are happy with this feat.”
On reported road projects and provision of solar-powered electricity by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to rural communities in the state, the Governor expressed surprise, asserting that it was necessary to properly inform his administration on such projects.
“I am also surprised when you said you’ve done rural roads in Rivers. I don’t know the roads you did. It is important for us to know them so that we will put it on record, that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture did this road.
“And we will be able to write to you and thank you for doing such road. If you put solar, let us also know. Except you gave it to your party people. There is no way you will do the road in Rivers without the state government being aware.”
On spate of adoption and quick release of children in parts of the country, Wike stated, “I saw breaking news, another banditry in Kaduna and taking away of students and teachers. The thing is becoming funny.
“Yesterday, you take 300, two days after, they release them. The next morning, you take others and in next 24 hours, they’re released. So, people know where they are. You take two hundred and something people in a 20 kilometres distance and nobody will know?
“And in the next 24 hours they’ve been released. What’s really happening? Can somebody tell us the truth about what’s going on? It is becoming funny. And why is it so? It is so because we politicise the issue of security”, he stated.
The visitor on the occasion, Minister of State for Agriculture, and Rural development, Shehuri said he was in Rivers to inspect ongoing and completed projects that will boost rural agriculture under his ministry.
He said the federal government is poised to support Rivers farmers with new technology that will address the problems of low yields, allow them have access to improved varieties of cassava produce, chemical for treatment for the seeds, and crops protection.