As flooding hits some frontlines states following the opening of the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon by the authorities, about 3.04 million Nigerian farmers may struggle to repay over N700bn Anchor Borrowers’ Programme loan of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The opening of the dam is expected to affect 13 frontline states, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.
Already, water levels have risen some states including Benue and Anambra, while Niger is already experiencing flooding.
Findings showed that farmers in the states are at risk of flooding.
According to some of the farmers, the development might make it difficult for them to repay their Anchor Borrowers’ loan.
Aside from the opening of the dam in Cameroon, NEMA had earlier said about 56 communities in 19 states across the country might experience heavy rainfall in August.
The NEMA Lagos Territorial Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, made this known in a statement while giving an update about the downpour that is likely to cause flooding in August.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, on Tuesday, said it kicked against the opening of the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon by the authorities of the neighbouring country without informing the Nigerian government.
The Director-General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency – an agency of the Federal Government, Clement Nze, who disclosed this to journalists, explained that in Nigeria, the month of June every year
Asked whether the Federal Government registered its grievance over the opening of the Lagdo Dam by Cameroon without informing Nigeria, the NIHSA boss replied, “Of course yes, expectedly Nigeria wasn’t pleased with the fact that Cameroon opened their dam without notifying Nigeria.
“It happened in 2012, which though they informed Nigeria, but because of the pressure on the dam in that year, they had to open it before the scheduled date, in order to relief the dam from any breach.
“In 2019, they opened the dam on October 10 till October 31 without informing Nigeria and there was flood. So we now know that whenever there is flood of certain magnitude we begin to ask questions.
“The same thing happened in 2022, and again in 2023 after the information got to us that Cameroon had opened the dam. I got across to them, that was when they had to confirm to us in writing that they had opened it on August 14, 2023.”
On whether Nigeria expressed worry over this and if it also contributed to the decision by the Cameroonian authorities to close the dam, Nze said, “Yes, like I mentioned earlier, what we have in the two countries is a Memorandum of Understanding which doesn’t give you powers to do anything if the other party violates some terms.
“Although in the MoU, there is no section of it that says Cameroon must notify us before they release water. But based on professional collaboration between my agency and the relevant agencies in Cameroon, they are supposed to inform us.”
Data obtained from the CBN showed that at least 1.25 million farmers in the 19 states received a total of N289.19bn as of December 2022.
The data showed that out of the 19 states, Sokoto got the highest (N49.25bn to 179,914 farmers), then Jigawa (N48.14bn for 175,685 farmers) and Zamfara (N34.46bn for 115,894 farmers).
Others include Taraba (N31.1bn for 154,407 farmers) and Adamawa (N30.69bn for 317,513 farmers).
The lowest loan was received by Lagos (N483m for 2,460 farmers), Imo (N1.07bn for 4,415.81 farmers), Osun (N1.26bn for 4,621 farmers), Anambra (N1.43bn for 6,647 farmers) and Abia (N2.67bn for 8,152 farmers).
The PUNCH learnt that a total of N411.49bn loaned to 1.79 million farmers in the eight states may struggle to make repayments due to insecurity caused by bandits.
Out of the eight states, Kaduna got the highest loan (N139.94bn for 510,664 farmers), then Niger (N61.75bn for 287,044 farmers), and Kano (N58.18bn for 322,452 farmers).
The lowest loan was received by Plateau (N8.49bn for 34,103 farmers), Yobe (21.55bn for 94,372 farmers) and Borno (N36.48bn for 177,752 farmers).
The CBN earlier said it disbursed N12.65bn to farmers under its anchor borrowers’ programme in the first two months of 2023.
The suspended CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the end of the 290th meeting of the apex bank’s monetary policy committee, said that a total of N1.09tn had been disbursed through the ABP since its inception in 2015.
He said 4.6 million smallholder farmers cultivating or rearing 21 agricultural commodities have benefitted from the programme so far.
The ABP was launched by former President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and smallholder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities.
The International Monetary Fund recently disclosed that only 24 per cent of loans disbursed under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the CBN have been repaid.
However, the CBN disclosed that N503bn representing 52.39 per cent has been repaid by farmers under the Anchor borrowers programme as of February 2023.
This figure contradicts claims by the IMF that only 24 per cent of loans disbursed under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria have been repaid.
Checks by The PUNCH on data from the CBN showed that in the first half of 2022, the CBN released N35.52bn to 28,875 farmers.
This was a significant decrease from the N179.35bn released to 1.01m farmers in H1 2021.
Also, the CBN disclosed that N42.99bn was repaid in H1 2022, which was a slight decrease from the N47.49bn repaid in the same period in 2021.
With the flood threatening farming activities, a number of farmers may struggle to repay their loans.
The President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kabiru Ibrahim, urged President Bola Tinubu to tackle flooding and erosion in order to ensure food security.
The AFAN president said this in a recent interview with The PUNCH, following the declaration of a state of emergency on food security by the President.
Ibrahim said, “The announcement of the President is such a very encouraging and very welcome development. The farmers and all Nigerians are hopeful that the attainment of food security is around the corner now.
“The government should intervene in flood and erosion control in farming areas in addition to the annual Nigerian Meteorological Agency predictions and Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency flood warnings.
“Increasing what we produce and eating what we produce is the only available pathway to the attainment of any form of National prosperity today.”
The former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Management, Sadiya Farouq, had said that in 2022, 676,945 farmlands were destroyed as a result of flooding.
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.