Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele on Sunday came under scathing criticisms for allegedly marginalising Southeast and Southwest in the intervention programmes.
The accusation was made against Emefiele in Enugu in a statement by the Southeast zone of the Zikist-Buharist Movement (ZBM).
The statement was titled: “CBN Governor marginalisation of Southeast, protest to Mr. President”.
ZBM chairman Stanley Ohajuruka and Secretary Godwin Onwusi accused Emefiele of deliberately marginalising the two zones in the CBN schemes.
But the allegation was dismissed by the CBN through its Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okorafor. He said there was no truth whatsoever in the allegation that the CBN is discriminatory to any part of the country.
Okorafor said: “CBN’s intervention programmes can be looked at from two major dimensions, namely, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and real sector interventions. Our CSR projects comply with the Federal Character principle.
“For instance, three Centers of Excellence projects have been completed at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and the University of Ibadann (UI). All three are ready for use”.
According to him, the UNEC and ABU centers have been inaugurated by the President while that of UI would be ready for use after its inauguration in the next few months if not weeks.
Okorafor said the rest of the centers under construction are spread evenly across all the six geopolitical zones.
He said: “Our real sector interventions are open to all Nigerians who meet the requirements set and who go through their banks. They are based on demand and ability to meet the terms of the guidelines which are the same across the country. They are not government grants; they are loans that have to be paid back.
“Any Nigerian investor, farmer, businessman, manufacturer or service provider can apply through his or her bank and obtain the loans and the loan distributions are nationwide.”
According to the ZBM statement, it has watched “how Emefiele patriotically funds agricultural intervention programmes in Southsouth (his home region) and the Northern states, while Southeast and Southwest were abandoned.”
It called on the Presidency to immediately call the CBN governor to order to keep the genuine intentions of the President’s “Next Level” alive in the minds of the people.
According to the group, unless the President moved fast to reverse the trend, the two zones may suffer a similar fate in the implementation of the livestock programme.
The statement reads: “Whereas the Zikist-Buharist-Movement (ZBM) appreciates the agrarian revolution of President Muhammadu, via the CBN intervention programme, we wish to report to Mr. President that the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, seems deliberately to be marginalising the Southeast and Southwest geopolitical zones.
“We have watched helplessly how the CBN has patriotically funded the Cross River, Kebbi and other geopolitical zones gigantic rice projects, the Cotton, Sorghum, Soya beans projects in the North; while the cocoa, palm produce and cassava belts in the Southwest and Southeast are more or less abandoned.
“ZBM appeals to Mr. President to reign in the CBN Governor the truism that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. As our understanding of Mr President agrarian revolution is for every nook and cranny of the federation to produce what we eat and to diversify our mono-oil economy.
“As things stand, the governor may marginalise the Southeast and Southwest in the upcoming livestock projects, forgetting that they want to advance our poultry, piggery, goat farming and fisheries.”
Continuing his defence, the CBN director explained that in the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the apex bank had started with the state model which required state governments that have organised their farmers to approach the CBN and the process will kick in.
Okorafor said: “Then the loans are given directly to the farmers. It is open to all state governments and all of them are involved in varying degrees of participation depending on the commodity they have selected as their area of comparative advantage.
“After the state model, we have the commodity associations’ model. Here, the various commodity associations organise their members across the country and then the process of the getting the loans will begin.”
He said there is also the private anchor model in which big off-takers who adopt thousands of out-growers or suppliers approach the CBN and are keyed into the programme.
“All in all, we have over one million farmers in the programmme from across all 36 states of the Federation. Our real sector programmes recognize and work with all Nigerians who are genuine, serious, willing and able to take a loan produce with it and pay back. Our facilities are neither grants nor giveaways. Any allegation to the contrary is false,” Okorafor stated.
The CBN had in line with its developmental function established the ABP.
Besides Okorafor said Emefiele was in Anambra State four days ago to inaugurate a major ricemill and farms from a loan provided by the apex bank.