By Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) has accused the Niger State government of inflating the cost of tractors and implements it purchased for this year’s farming season.
The party has therefore called for an “independent audit” into the purchase of the 130 tractors and implements.
The PDM said in a statement made available to newsmen in MinnaÂ on WednesdayÂ that it also suspected fraud in the purchase of the tractors and implements.
The statement signed by the state Publicity Secretary of the party Yahaya Mohammed Usman claimed that the price quoted for the purchase of the 130 tractors by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello was at variance with the present market price.
Governor Sani Bello while flagging off the 2018 farming seasonÂ on TuesdayÂ said 130 tractors were purchased at N2.2 billion, adding that they would be given to ‘genuine farmers’ at 25 per cent subsidy.
The PDM said in the statement that the claim by the government “is totally incorrect”, insisting that the market price was “fraudulently inflated”.
According to Usman, “A unit of the same brand of tractor (MF375) with their implement bought directly from dealers cost N12 million, a difference of N4.9 million each from the figure of N16.9m quoted by the governor.”
He said that someone must have ripped off the state of about N637 million on the 130 tractors.
On the claim that the government was giving 25 per cent subsidy on each tractor to “each genuine farmer”, the PDM said going by the existing market price, the government was not giving any subsidy as each unit of tractor cost N12.67 million.
He further stated that the price will be cheaper if bought directly from the manufacturers.
The PDM, Usman said, would want the people of the state to rise against such act which would lead to farmers being tied to the loan unjustifiably for years.
Instead of boosting farming, this latest development will only discourage the local farmers from becoming mechanised.