The Governor of Rivers State, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of playing politics with its agricultural loans and depriving his state access to them.
Wike spoke when he hosted the Minister of State for Agriculture, and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri at Government House, Port Harcourt, on Monday.
The governor lamented the politicisation of all issues in the country including agriculture saying such policies should be dispassionately implemented to achieve the intended food security and jobs for the youths.
He said: “I think, I am one of those states that nobody gives loans for agriculture. I don’t know what hatred the Central Bank Governor has for us? We do not know.
“We have been hearing of ANCHOR borrower this and ANCHOR that. But when it concerns Rivers State, you will hear a lot of things.”
Wike said the CBN would have partnered with the Rivers State government to achieve the objectives of setting up the state-owned cassava processing plant.
He said: “Please tell the Governor of Central Bank to remember us too, that we are part of Nigeria. When we applied, they said this loan was N5bn. We have applied for more than one year now. They said we should bring this and bring that.
“They said we should bring the co-operative societies and I say this is where the politics come from. If I want to eat government money, I can sit here and write co-operative societies.
“Previous administration took loans and said they gave it to co-operative societies of over N3bn. Who are these corporative societies? And the money went off like that.
“And we are telling you to see the cassava processing plant that you are supposed to say we will buy into this, we will support the state government. Nothing has happened.”
Wike said even without the loans from the CBN, his administration was achieving a revolution in cassava processing to create jobs for youths and enduring patronage for farmer folks.
He said: “It is not in dispute that to take the country out of where we are, agriculture is key. If we are sincere with the reality that agriculture will employ a lot of our youths; give them jobs and achieve food security, then we must do it in such a way that we really mean what we say.”
The governor said the state government would invite the Minister of Agriculture to commission the cassava processing plant saying many companies had keyed in already to buy off what would be processed.
“We have over 3000 farmers who have registered. From them, the company will buy off all their produce. We are happy with this feat,” he said.
Wike expressed surprised over the road projects and provision of solar-powered electricity that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture claimed to have provided to rural communities in the state.
He said it was important for the state government to know the locations of the roads and solar power for proper recording and to enable his administration to appreciate the federal government.
He said: “I am also surprised when you said you’ve done rural roads in Rivers State. I don’t know the roads you did. It is important for us to know them so that we will put it on record, that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture did this road.
“And we will be able to write to you and thank you for doing such road. If you put solar, let us also know. Except you gave it to your party people. There is no way you will do the road in my State without the State government being aware”.
Speaking on incessant cases of abduction of children in the north, the governor said: “I saw breaking news, another banditry in Kaduna and taking away students and teachers. The thing is becoming funny. Yesterday, you take 300, two days after, they release them. The next morning, you take another one, the next 24 hours, they’re released.
“So, people know where they are. You take two hundred and something people in a 20 kilometers distance and nobody will know? And in the next 24 hours, they’ve been released. What’s really happening?
“Can somebody tell us the truth of what’s going on? It is becoming funny. And why is it so? It is so because we politicise the issue of security”.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Agriculture, and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri said he was in the state to inspect ongoing and completed projects that would boost rural agricultural activities under his ministry.
He said the federal government was poised to supporting Rivers farmers with new technology to address the problems of poor yields, allow them to have access to improved varieties of cassava produce, chemical for treatment for the seeds and crops protection.