Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of depriving his state access to agricultural loans.
Wike told the visiting Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development Mustapha Shehuri in Port Harcourt that the bank was playing politics with its agricultural loans.
The governor, who also challenged the Federal Government to show proof of the roads it constructed in the state, said abductions and release of schoolchildren in the North were being politicised.
According to him, all agricultural policies ought to be dispassionately implemented to achieve the intended food security and jobs for the youth.
His words: “I think, our state is one of those states that nobody gives loans for agriculture. I don’t know what hatred the Central Bank has towards us? We do not know.
“We have been hearing of ANCHOR borrowers this and ANCHOR that. But when it concerns Rivers State, you will hear a lot of things.”
Wike said the CBN should have partnered 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( Godwin Emefiele) to remember us too, that we are part of Nigeria. When we applied, they said this loan was N5 billion. We have applied for more than one year now. They said we should bring this and bring that.
“They said we should bring the cooperative societies and I say this is where the politics come in. If I want to eat government money, I can sit here and write cooperative societies.
“Previous administration took loans and said they gave it to cooperative 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 an 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 Shehuri to inaugurate the cassava processing plant, saying many companies had keyed in already to buy off what would be processed.
“We have over 3,000 farmers who have registered. From them, the company will buy off all their produce. We are happy with this feat,” he said.
Wike expressed surprise over road projects and solar-powered electricity that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture claimed to have provided rural communities in the state.
He said it was important for the state government to know the locations of the roads and solar power sites to enable his administration to appreciate the Federal Government.
He said: “I am also surprised when you said you have 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 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-kilometre 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.”
The minister had told the governor that he was in the state to inspect ongoing and completed projects that would boost rural agricultural activities under his ministry.
He said that the Federal Government was poised to supporting Rivers State farmers with new technology to address the problems of poor yields, give them access to improved varieties of cassava produce and chemical for treatment for the seeds.