The house of representatives has decided to investigate the alleged diversion of N105 billion agricultural loans by the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
This allegation was made on Wednesday by Chris Okafor while sponsoring a motion to investigate the total sum of N275 billion loans approved for farmers in the country.
Leading the motion’s debate during Wednesday’s plenary session, Okafor said Nigeria has not attained food security despite the approval of the funds for farmers.
He said the federal government had approved the “disbursement of funds to farmers in various schemes to the tune of over N275 billion”, ranging from commercial agricultural credit scheme (CACS) to facilities under NIRSAL.
“Apart from increasing food supply, the Scheme is to grant agricultural loans to large and small scale commercial farmers to lower the prices of agricultural produce, generate employment and increase foreign exchange earnings,” he said.
“Since the approval, most farmers have not been able to access the loans due to stringent requirements being demanded by banks from prospective borrowers and the alleged siphoning of over N105 billion meant for farmers by management of NIRSAL. [And] food production has not attained the expected level despite the approval of over N275 billion facilities to farmers.”
Okafor also said the government’s plan to diversify Nigeria’s economy from oil to agriculture will not be achieved “if farmers are unable to access loans meant to increase agricultural production.”
The lawmakers subsequently endorsed the motion and mandated its committee on banking and currency to investigate how the loans have been disbursed and report back for further legislative action.