Governor Amaechi Diverts Farmers' N2 billion Loan
Wonders shall never end. It is quite unbelievable but the leaders of the Rivers State Farmers Association in conjunction with Oxfarm and Afarm have disclosed to the Niger Delta Integrity Group that the Rivers State Governor Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has
refused to release the sum of N2billion agricultural loan earmarked for farmers in Rivers State . The loan, it was gathered, was part of the N200 billion released by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to Nigerian farmers. Investigation revealed that the State Governor collected the money in the month of February 2010 but has blatantly refused to release it to the Farmers' Association.
Three officers of the Rivers State Farmers Association, OX-Farm and A-Farm revealed that even the Commissioner for the Ministry of Agriculture has severally pleaded on behalf of the farmers but all to no avail. From official quarters, it is believed that the money is intact in the custody of government; one wonders when Amaechi will put smiles on the faces of the poor farmers in Rivers State . If this line of thinking is true, then, so much interest might have accrued from the loan. A man close to the Commissioner for Agriculture, who claimed anonymity, opined that the loan might have been diverted to fund his electioneering campaign. This is grandiose injustice on the part of the Rivers State Governor because for the past decade or so, government has been pursuing a policy of food sufficiency at least to reduce the huge importation of food. It will be recalled that Nigeria is the greatest importer of rice in Africa and the 3rd largest importer of rice in the world.
The Rivers State Farmers Association is calling on the active segment of the civil society to prevail on Government Rotimi Amaechi not to play politics with the loan meant for farmers, as it will be detrimental to the cultivation of food crops in the State. One farmer from the Abua-Odual could not hide his feelings. Here him 'This Governor is wicked. It will not be well with him if he makes it impossible for us to get farm inputs this year. They cannot give two sons, who are graduates any job in the civil service, and now they say I should not farm' the farmer said!
Efforts made by the Niger Delta Integrity Group to reach the Agric Commissioner in Rivers State were unsuccessful, as his official phone lines were put off. What is disturbing, however, is that this is the farming season and the non-release of the money would mean that tough times await farmers in Rivers State . The question that harasses ones imagination is: what would a Governor, who budgets close to N500 billion in the 2011 fiscal year do with the paltry N2 billion earmarked for farmers?
For: Niger Delta Integrity Group (NDIG)