The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has dismissed wednesday’s protest at its Abuja headquarters as the handiwork of mischief-makers who are bent on discrediting the laudable agricultural programmes of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
A statement by NIRSAL’s Head of Corporate Communications, Ms. Anne Ihugba, stated that three persons carried placards inscribed with ‘’unsubstantiated and discredited’’ allegations against NIRSAL’s Managing Director, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
‘’The colourful flyers and placards accused NIRSAL and the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme of diverting farmers’ money and killing farmers, a totally baseless claim.
‘’The messages on the placards and flyers included: Anchor Borrowers Programs a Lie; CBN, NIRSAL Is Diverting Farmers’ Money,’’ she said.
However, the NIRSAL’s spokesperson said when the protesters were engaged by staff members of the organisation, some of them who were ‘’dirty and unkempt’’ and spoke in Hausa language said they knew nothing about NIRSAL’s operations and admitted that they were sponsored to demonstrate against NIRSAL.
According to her, ‘’They also admitted that they have no information about NIRSAL’s operations, the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Central Bank.
‘’According to them, they were at NIRSAL to do a job they were paid for by their sponsor(s) who got them a police permit.’’
Ihugba described the sponsored protest as a failed attempt to distort the facts about verified contributions of NIRSAL, such as over N100 billion facilitated from the financial sector into the agricultural sector, which is improving the lives of farmers across the country.
“Though NIRSAL found the inauspicious visit as an opportunity to engage and enlighten more young people on its agribusiness initiatives and the promise they hold, the protest smacked of a witch-hunt and a well-crafted agenda to smear the organisation.
‘’Questioned individually, the boys admitted to belonging to no ABP tickets and were in fact recruited from Abuja and environs, particularly from areas such as Mararaba, Mabushi and Jabi. This negates the claim that they are farmers from Kebbi State.
“To be absolutely clear, all successful ABP applications for the 2019 farming seasons have been honoured by NIRSAL. As required by the guidelines issued by the central bank, farmers with incomplete loan documentations are prevented from accessing the funds in their accounts until they meet the obligations.”
She said the attempt was bound to fail because “facts do not lie,” saying the effort to discredit the institution by persons who do not mean well for the sector and the country was sure to fail flat.