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CBN clarifies Bayelsa N3b agric loan, refutes alleged fraud in AAD scheme

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said its Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) is on course in Bayelsa State and that allegations of fraud in the programme were not true.

The apex bank made the clarification during a visit of its Yenagoa Branch Controller, Francis Ene-Asuquo and his team to Governor Douye Diri at Government House, Yenagoa.

Governor Diri’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Daniel Alabrah in a statement, pointed out that Ene-Asuquo commended the state government for its investment in agriculture and for the robust partnership between them.

He acknowledged that for the first time since its creation, Bayelsa had fully keyed into the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme, which had propelled farmers to establish themselves into clusters in the state. 

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Ene-Asuquo said the CBN had disbursed N600m directly to poultry farmers in the state, which made it possible for them to now supply eggs to neighbouring states in commercial quantity.  

He said the government also keyed into the bank’s agricultural programme, in which over N2.2b had been disbursed to 2,000 Bayelsa people. 

While clarifying the alleged N3b agricultural loan fraud peddled by one John Idumange, a former General Manager of the Bayelsa Radio Corporation against the state government, CBN’s Head of Development Finance, Stanley Oruyeigha, dismissed the claim as mere speculation and outright falsehood. 

Oruyeigha confirmed that N1.5b of the amount was disbursed in the first phase for infrastructure development, including completion of the cassava-processing factory at Ebedebiri, while N1.4b was disbursed directly to 3,500 farmers for the purchase of agricultural inputs in the second phase.

Insisting that the process had been transparent and that the balance of N61.6m intact, he absolved the state government of involvement in disbursement of the fund, stressing that farmers were the direct beneficiaries and that no government official received a dime.

Speaking, Governor Diri said detractors and those he described as ‘armchair critics,’ would not deter his government, insisting that he was focused on changing the development narrative in Bayelsa State.

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He added that his administration would continue to partner with the CBN to realise the objectives of his prosperity agenda for the state. 

He explained that the agricultural loan was already being processed before his administration came on board, stressing that he could not be blackmailed into appointing smear campaigners against his government and warned detractors and professional petition writers to desist.

Diri noted that with the level of commitment to farming, the state would soon patronise only rice grown and harvested in its communities.

He restated that his administration would build on the legacies of the previous administration in agriculture, adding: “We are not deterred by armchair blackmailers and critics. We are focused and we want to bring prosperity to our people. One way to do that is to continue our partnership with the CBN in developing our agricultural potential.”

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