Emefiele defends anchor borrowers’ scheme

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Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, says foreign media reports that Nigeria was importing more rice than before, labeling the report as fake news.

Emefiele who disclosed this at the second Nigeria Investment Conference organized by the CFA charter at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, said the anchor borrowers’ scheme has ensured that Nigeria is gradually emerging from being a net importer of rice, to a net exporter.

“I seize this opportunity to say it is untrue. Most of you here are bankers and you can check volumes of your LCs and judge whether one dollar has been allocated for the importation of rice since 2016 when 41 items were banned. The data that we have today shows that rice imported legally is less than 25,000 tonnes in 2018 so far.

“How could an agency who has not even been to Nigeria, who has not been to the farms to see what we are doing, just come up and say that Nigeria imported more than 400,000 tonnes above more than what it should normally import? Go to the data from countries that export. Go to Thailand. Go to India.  Our policy is working. We need advocacy. We need people to talk about it positively and not negatively. Do not sit idle and criticise using false data just because you want to gain some points, either politically or otherwise.

“Since the anchor borrowers scheme was introduced, Nigeria has empowered over 800,000 smallholder farmers. What does a smallholder farmer require? Less than N250, 000 to cultivate one hectare of rice. These people never had access to finance…and people sit and use geopolitical satellites to say Nigeria has imported 400,000 tonnes in excess of what it imported the previous year. This is false and fake news.”

“We have empowered 800,000 people in our rural communities. We have disbursed over N100 billion on this project. That is why it is painful when people say that it hasn’t worked. We are importing rice. It’s very discouraging. That’s why I say. If you can’t join us in this message, just keep quiet and let us continue on our journey.”

In response to a question on how sustainable the CBN interventions where, and at what points the banks would take over, Emefiele interjected midway with hard knocks for the banks.

In his view, the banks were to work hand in hand with the CBN, but preferred to buy treasury bills.

“Your job as a bank is to stimulate the economy. To act as a catalyst for growth and development. You have a responsibility to work for your shareholders. What you do is put the money in treasury bills because you feel the yields are good. We are not happy with you about that.”