N17b Debt: Kebbi Rice Farmers Seek Out Of Court Deal With Fed. Govt.

405 views | Akanimo Sampson | February 10, 2020

Rice farmers in Kebbi State, Northern Nigeria on the platform of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) are currently exploring how to secure an out of court settlement with the Federal Government on their N17 billion debt burden.

They, however, obtained the seeming huge amount as loans from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP). But, they were not repaying the loan because they erroneously thought it was doled out to them as their share of the national cake.

RIFAN Chairman in the state, Muhammed Sahabi Augie, who made this known said that only 200 farmers were able to settle their loans, out of the 70,000 farmers that received the loans in 2015.

According to him, ‘’ most of the farmers had got a wrong impression that the loan is free money and of the 70,000 that had benefited from the loan in 2015, not up to 200 farmers repaid their loan so we had to resort to taking the farmers to court to recover the money. As at now in every magistrate around the state, we have given the list of the farmers to recover the loan.’’

While the government recently filed cases against nearly 70,000 Kebbi farmers for failure to repay the N17 billion loans they received under the ABP, in November 2015, Augie has, however, pointed out that those standing trials in court are genuine farmers, whose backgrounds were verified by an independent body.

He has also faulted some claims that the ABP loans were hijacked by politicians in the state, saying such claims could ruin the state’s integrity and chances of benefitting from similar programmes.

While lauding the ABP’s contributions to the development of rice in the state, regardless of the shortcomings in the repayment of loans, he said, ‘’it is a big lie for any person, group of persons to say the ABP did not impact positively in the state because before the launch of the programme in 2015, the state’s total rice production capacity was 70,000 metric tonnes per annum but by 2016 it had increased to 1.2 million metrics tonnes per annum.’’

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