18 January 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has alleged that political farmers are the main beneficiaries of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, interventions to support rural farmers.
The labour president made the allegation at a meeting organised by ActionAid Nigeria in Abuja yesterday as part of activities to mark 2017 Global Week of Action to Fight Inequality.
He said: “I have seen of recent on this issue of diversification. I saw people with briefcase and ties calling themselves farmers. They have no connection with the real farmers in the village. They don’t have land. They are portfolio farmers, political farmers. If you go to the CBN, they collect those loans and divert it.”
Wabba also identified extreme poverty in the country, lack of efficient pro-poor policies and weak social protection programmes as a result of inequality that has permeated through the entire system especially between the rich and the poor as a problem.
“There is no gain say that inequality gaps have continued to increase among countries and people and this posed a serious danger. We now have cases of extreme poverty where families cannot afford a square meal per day, this posed a serious danger.”
ActionAid Country Director, Ojobo Atuluku, identified women and youth as most hit by impacts of inequality.
She said the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) discovered that poverty and inequality was a major bane to developing the people.
“For decades, we have focused our work on reducing inequalities which drive and deepen poverty and exclusion. We have moved our work to the whole community targeting the conditions and situation of children, both boys and girls, and the empowerment of women as indicators of a community’s progress,” Atuluku said.
She appealed to the Federal Government to sign the social protection policy and ensure adequate budgetary provisions for the initiative.
Atuluku, who emphasised the need to setup frameworks for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), advised state governments to also partake in the social investment scheme.
And as part of the effort to increase access to loans by farmers and agro-allied industries, the Federal Government yesterday disclosed plans to inject N500 billion for the recapitalization and restructuring of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA).
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stated this at the inauguration of the National Council on Privatization (NCP) Steering Committee on the restructuring and recapitalisation of Bank of Agriculture and the project delivery team yesterday in Abuja.
The Vice President who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh said that the approach would among other things ensure farmers have access to agricultural credit at a single digit interest rate.
He said the decision of the Federal Government to embark on the strategic recapitalization of the bank was aimed at “revitalizing its operations and make it more responsive to its mandate of serving as a veritable platform for providing loans to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), rural farmers and cooperatives and agro-allied industries.”
The Minister said the plan was to kick-start the proper restructuring of the bank by February so that increased access to finance would enable loan beneficiaries to meet the huge demand for agricultural produce for local consumption and exports.