Rice Farmers: CBN Not Indebted to Our Members

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James Emejo in Abuja

The President of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Mr. Aminu Goronyo, wednesday distanced its members from an “unfortunate” newspaper advertorial (not THISDAY), wherein a fictitious individual, who claimed to be a RIFAN contractor, alleged that he was being owed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the supply of agricultural inputs.

The RIFAN president said the sponsor of the open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari was unknown to the association and could not have been one of its members as he would have breached due process in the first instance by resorting to the media without first making a formal complaint to the leadership of the association.

Speaking at a press briefing on the issue, Goronyo said no member of RIFAN has reported any complaint bordering on CBN indebtedness.

According to him, “There was no single supplier of RIFAN that came to our office to complain on whether he has supplied and has not been paid. There is no single day that we can recall that somebody came here to complain.”

He said the publication must have been fabricated by those who wanted to reverse the gains already recorded by the CBN-backed Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) which he said had ushered in a revolution in local rice production since 2015.

To buttress his point further, he noted that none of its 30 members-comprising 25 input suppliers and five service providers-had direct dealings with the apex bank, rather through the association, and wondered how the said contractor as an individual may have struck such a deal with the CBN.

He said: The central bank does not have any business with RIFAN supplier; it is RIFAN that engages its suppliers and service providers.

“There is no place that the CBN intervenes in the engagement of our suppliers or service providers. Our suppliers do not have any link with the CBN at all.”

The RIFAN president further stressed that the publication was only an “attempt to destroy the successes that was made by the government to achieve rice sufficiency which stopped rice importation into this country, and by extension, saved the country billions of naira which also translated millions of employment for Nigerians.

“It is unfortunate that whoever came up with that write up, it is late and cannot stop these successes already achieved by the CBN. Everybody had witnessed the successes that were afforded by CBN towards achieving food sufficiency in the country.”

He said: “From 2015, all the rice we consumed in this country was grown locally; there was no importation at all. And if that is the case, CBN deserves commendation and support, and should be portrayed as an organ of this country that helped contribute a lot to the development of this country. And that is where we stand.

“RIFAN and CBN are very good friends, they have supported us and we have achieved a lot through the CBN support and we will continue to appreciate the support given to us.”

Goronyo said any attempt to belittle the efforts of the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in his attempt to achieve food security for the country had already been defeated, going by the huge successes so far recorded in the agriculture sector of the economy.