FG owes agro dealers N73bn, forces member to sleep inside church

Audu Ogbeh

Audu Ogbeh, OFR

Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture
Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture

Agro Dealers Association of Nigeria has threatened that its members will boycott the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme after it revealed that one of its member now live inside the church because of the N73 billion debt owed them by the government.

The Chairman of the association, Mr Kabir Fara, dropped this hint in Abuja on Tuesday in an interview with NAN.

Fara expressed regrets that the debt had lasted for about 20 months.

He said the association would stage a protest in Abuja to draw Nigerias’ attention to the plight of members.

“We are being owed about N73 billion by the state and Federal Governments for over 20 months and we have decided not to participate in GES until we are paid.

“Some of our members, who are major players, have passed on without collecting their money and some are with high blood pressure.

“In fact, a member of ours now lives inside the church.

“Others have relocated from their places of residence because the people they are owing money would not let them be and some have had their cars sold or seized.

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“We have written letters to the President, the Minister of Agriculture, the Permanent Secretary, the National Assembly; committees on Agriculture of both chambers, and they promised that we will get paid latest first week of January.

“But up till now, there is no sign that this promise will be kept,” he said.

NAN reports that the GES scheme is a flagship programme of the Federal Government through which registered farmers have access to farm inputs like seeds, agro chemicals and fertiliser at subsidised rate via e-wallet.

The scheme is being expanded to include insurance, loans, and extension services; the programme is targeted at small holder farmers with the aim of increasing food production by 20 million tonnes.

Fara explained that the association is a brain child of the Federal Government, engaged to supply quality farm inputs to farmers under the scheme.

He said the association successfully delivered on their mandate in the 2012/2013 farming season.

The chairman said members are yet to be paid for supply made in 2014/2015, following a change in government.

The chairman said if the government wants to improve agriculture, produce food and save foreign exchange, it should pay serious attention to the farmers’ complaint.

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