Protesters at NIRSAL admits being sponsored

As part of the ongoing campaign against the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) by corrupt interests fighting against the successful agricultural reforms by the Muhammadu Buhari administration, some sponsored miscreants have been staging a protest outside NIRSAL’s offices in Abuja.

The miscreants carried placards with unsubstantiated and discredited allegations against NIRSAL, its managing director and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The colourful flyers and placards accused NIRSAL and the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme of “diverting farmers’ money” and “killing farmers” – a totally baseless claim.

The badly written messages on the placards and flyers included: “Anchor borrowers is program is a lie, CBN NIRSAL is diverting farmers money.”

A statement by NIRSAL’s head of corporate communications, Anne Ihugba said: “When they were engaged by NIRSAL staff, some of the protesters who looked dirty and unkempt and spoke in Hausa language revealed they knew nothing about NIRSAL’s operations and admitted that were sponsored to protest against NIRSAL.

“They also admitted that they have no information about NIRSAL’s operations, the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

The statement also said the protesters admitted being “at NIRSAL to do a job they were paid for by their sponsor(s) who got them a police permit.”

Ihugba described the sponsored protest “as a failed attempt to distort the facts about verified contributions of NIRSAL such as over N100 billion facilitated from the financial sector into the agricultural sector which is improving the lives of farmers across the country.

“Though NIRSAL found the inauspicious visit as an opportunity to engage and enlighten more young people on its agribusiness initiatives and the promise they hold, the protest smacked of witch-hunting and a well-crafted agenda to smear the organization.

“Questioned individually, the boys admitted to belonging to no ABP tickets and were in fact recruited from Abuja and environs, particularly from areas such as Mararaba, Mabushi and Jabi. This negates the claim that they are farmers from Kebbi State.

“To be absolutely clear, all successful ABP applications for the 2019 farming seasons have been honoured by NIRSAL. As required by the guidelines issued by the Central Bank, farmers with incomplete loan documentations are prevented from accessing the funds in their accounts until they meet the obligations.”

She said the attempt was bound to fail because “facts do not lie” and that effort to discredit the institution by persons who did not mean well for the sector and the country was bound to fail.

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