12m Farmers Mobilise for Buhari’s Second Term, Contribute N100 Each

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• Say agric revolution must continue

•President rejects N488.7bn debts refund to states

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari’s return bid would receive a hefty financial boost this evening as 12 million farmers that benefited from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme plan a grand reception for him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja with a pledge to contribute N100 each to the president’s campaign fund, insisting that the current agricultural revolution taking place at the grassroot across Nigeria must continue.

According to impeccable THISDAY sources, the pledge would amount to a whooping N1.2billion and would be put together by the farmers under the auspices of Anchor Borrowers Farmers’ Association, whose membership runs across the country, particularly the North-west and the North-east.

Saying one good turn deserves another, one of the leaders of the farmers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were happy with the president for his credit initiatives that had boosted their trade.

“Baba Buhari has been so good to us. So we think contributing N100 each will not be too much a way to appreciate him,” he said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in line with its developmental function established the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and was launched by the president on November 17, 2015.

The programme is intended to create a linkage between anchor companies, involved in the processing, and small holder farmers (SHFs) of required key agricultural commodities. The programme thrust of the ABP is provision of farm inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to small holder farmers to boost production of these commodities, stabilize inputs supply to agro processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food. At harvest, the SHF supplies his/her produce to the Agro-processor (Anchor) who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account.

As at August 2018, about N150 billion had been disbursed to farmers under the programme.

The farmers’ gesture would be the second of such by interest groups since Buhari declared his intention for a presidential rerun. The first was in September 2018 when a group, National Consolidation Ambassadors Network (NCAN), put together N45 million to purchase the All Progressives Congress’ presidential expression of interest and nomination forms for him.

The president had complained loudly that the amount was too much for him to raise, having borrowed N25 million in 2015 to purchase the same forms.

The group came to his rescue, generating in the process, however, a huge controversy over the legal implication of the gesture because of the limitation placed on campaign donations by the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

President Rejects N488.7bn Debts Refund to States

Meanwhile, the president has rejected the National Assembly’s approval for refund of N488.7 billion to state governments for projects they executed on behalf of the federal government.

The president accused the lawmakers of padding the N487.852 billion promissory note he sent to the legislature for approval.

In a two-page letter dated December 10, 2018, addressed to Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and read at plenary yesterday, Buhari complained that the National Assembly added N890.537million to the N487.852billion promissory note he sent to the senators for approval.

The president, who had explained that the promissory notes were meant for settlement of inherited local debts and contractual obligations on refund to state governments for projects executed on behalf of the federal government, said the federal lawmakers also reduced the number of beneficiary states from 25 to 21 despite the N890.537million added to the N487.852billion request.

According to the president, the changes made by the National Assembly in the request are not implementable due to provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

He, therefore, submitted that though the federal government would not release money to any of the states removed from beneficiary list by the National Assembly but the exact monies approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the 21 other states would be paid to them regardless of whether such approvals have been tampered with or not by NASS in its own approval via a letter dated July 28, 2018.

The letter titled, “Promissory Note Programme and a Bond Issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations on refund to State Governments for Projects Executed on behalf of the Federal Government,” read in part. ” While the Federal Executive Council approved a total sum of N487,852,988,574.74 as reimbursement to state governments, the National Assembly approved N488,743,526,204.77 implying that the amount approved by National Assembly was N890,537,630.03 higher than the amount approved by FEC;

“While Federal Executive Council approved reimbursement to 25 States, National Assembly approved reimbursement to only 21 States;

“National Assembly did not approve any reimbursement for four States (Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba) whereas Federal Executive Council had approved reimbursements for them and note that, the amounts approved by the National Assembly for reimbursement to 21 states are higher than the amounts approved by Federal Executive Council for reimbursement to 25 states.

“The amount approved by National Assembly for reimbursement to each of the 21 States is higher than the amount approved by FEC for each of these States except for Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger.

“The Senate may kindly note the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, which empowers the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to approve vendors and contract sums. The amounts presented to National Assembly for approval were duly certified for reimbursement by the BPP, before they were approved by the Federal Executive Council. This was after the projects had been inspected through a programme under the chairmanship of the honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

“Since the BPP is charged with the responsibility of approving contract sums, and there is a need for compliance with the Public Procurement Act, 2007, I wish to request that you forward to us details relating to the amounts approved by National Assembly for the 17 States in excess of what was certified by BPP for necessary certification and approval. Furthermore, I wish to request for review of the reimbursements earlier submitted in favour of Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba States.

“Meanwhile the federal government shall proceed with implementation on the basis of where the amount approved by the National Assembly is the same as the amount approved by the Federal Executive Council: The jointly approved amount would be reimbursed. The States are: Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano and Niger;

“Where the amount approved by the National Assembly is higher than the amount approved by Federal Executive Council: The amount approved by FEC would be reimbursed. The States are: Akwa lbom, Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, lmo, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Plateau and Zamfara.

“Finally where no amount was approved by National Assembly, no reimbursement will be made: The affected States are: Bauchi, Delta, Kogi and Taraba”.