Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The House of Representatives has ordered the probe of the Ministry of Agriculture and its parastatal over $1 billion donor assisted fund spent on various agricultural projects in Nigeria over the years.
This followed the adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante, on the need to investigate the administration and performance of donor assisted agricultural project funds.
He said that over the years, the federal government had been partnering and acquiring loans and grants from donor agencies such as: World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations (UN), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Development Agency (IDA), among others, with a view to improving agricultural production in the country.
He said: “Over $1 billion of the donor’s fund have been spent on various agricultural projects in Nigeria by the three-tiers of government over the years.”
Abiante stressed that since 1985 the IFAD had financed 11 agricultural projects in the country with $509.62 million, while several millions of dollars had also been committed to the implementation of Fadama project by the World Bank since 1993.
The lawmaker recalled that the various agricultural projects were put in place with the aim of assisting Nigerian farmers, especially the rural ones with the necessary funds needed to improve their agricultural venture, thus meeting the food demand of the fast growing population of Nigeria, guarantee food security, reduce oil dependency, diversify and grow the economy.
Abiante expressed worry that despite the laudable objectives of these agricultural projects and the humongous financial contributions of the International donors such as the World Bank, the International Development Agency, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the African Development Bank over many years, the country is still grappling with the problem of food sufficiency and farmers prosperity.
He observed that the volume of funds channelled to the Nigeria’s agricultural sector through these donor funding projects over the years was so enormous that one wonders if the resources were well utilised and accounted for, especially when measured against observed results from the agencies.
Abiante stated: “Thorough investigation of the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and its parastatals that are in charge of the administration of all the Agricultural donor funding projects will help in unearthing the problems that are associated with the inabilities of the projects to achieve its desired goals.”
The House therefore mandated the Committee on Agricultural Production and Services to investigate the administration and performance of all donor funded Agricultural projects with a view to unearthing the problems associated with its inabilities to achieve its set objectives, and report back to the House within six weeks for further legislative action.