NIRSAL…Says no to blackmail by dishonest stakeholders

BY COBHAM NSA, ABUJA – The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Plc says no amount of cheap blackmail will make it hand over farmers’ funds to dishonest stakeholders and middlemen in the country.

The Agency assured that its zero tolerance for corruption is firmly on course and all those “currently orchestrating a vicious and well-funded campaign of disinformation and blackmail against NIRSA” will be exposed.

This is even as the Agency explained that it has “disbursed and continues to disburse Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) funds to tens of thousands of genuine and verified farmers across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT under the ABP.”

Accordingly, NIRSAL said, in pursuit of its mandate of ensuring legitimate farmers have easy access to approved funds; direct disbursement to the accounts of qualified farmers, who have fulfilled all necessary conditions precedent to such support, would be sustained

A statement by its Head, Corporate Communication, Anne Ihugba, in Abuja said; “The notion that NIRSAL, under undue pressure, will release monies meant for innocent smallholder farmers, most of whom are of low-income status in rural areas, to conscienceless middlemen, blackmailers and propagandists is antithetical to everything NIRSAL stands for and synonymous with CORRUPTION.”

Titled: “A Statement on the On-Going Campaign of Disinformation Against the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc)”, Ihugba said it is unfortunate that some persons and groups claiming to be stakeholders or participants in various agricultural projects are involved in pressurizing the Agency to abandon its resolve at making the process of funds disbursement to farmers open and transparent

According to her; “In an effort to invest their bogus claims with invented credibility, these elements have been making the rounds of media houses with false claims that NIRSAL, itself a CBN-owned entity, is holding up funds released by the CBN under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).

“Some of them have even gone as far as organizing anti-NIRSAL protests and press conferences citing documents that were still undergoing processing and funds yet to be released by the CBN. Others have also been busy whipping up sentiments against NIRSAL amongst farmers, who they claim to represent.”

NIRSAL further claimed that; “Our investigations reveal that among these elements are so-called “leaders” of farmers’ groups who did not meet the relevant criteria for participation in the ABP through the NIRSAL PFI window, by filing up registers of “cooperatives” they formed with fake names and unidentifiable persons. In this category also, are so-called “farmers” who do not have farmlands.

“It is interesting to note that the farmers who failed credit checks are the ones being used to mount these negative campaigns and protests. It is this latter category of “farmers” that are conniving with these so-called “aggregators” to confuse genuine farmers on the procedures and processes of accessing the CBN ABP facility.”

The Agency, which claimed that the objective of the campaign being waged on several media platforms is clear, said; “We also have information that some “aggregators” have fraudulently collected monies from farmers promising to deliver loan facilities through the CBN ABP and other NIRSAL funding windows.”

Maintaining that it will not be intimidated into releasing funds to unqualified and unverified entities under the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP)’s window, NIRSAL said its mandate from the nation’s apex bank would be successfully delivered to the disappointment of those relying on ‘underhand and unethical tactics.”

“As an agricultural finance risk management institution, NIRSAL has no intention of compromising its internal processes or the ABP guidelines by falling for these shenanigans”, the Statement said.

It also stated that; “NIRSAL has a mandate from the Central Bank of Nigeria to deploy its risk management mechanisms, its nationwide footprint, its partnership with Channel Partner Banks and its technical capacities to directly empower farmers by de-risking agriculture and facilitating agribusiness, with the ultimate objective of boosting agricultural productivity and food security in the country.

The Agency however urged the media and public to beware of what it described as ‘nefarious persons and groups’, adding; “We are by this notice alerting genuine farmers and farmer associations not to allow these dishonest elements who have become ubiquitous, to continue their nefarious activities to deprive you or your associations of legitimate credit support from the CBN and Federal Government under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.”

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