By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
State Governors have again appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) to assist them reschedule their Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPOs) upon which deductions are made directly monthly from their allocations at the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting.
The governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), made the appeal at the apex bank corporate headquarters in Abuja on Thursday when the Forum led by it’s Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi led about 20 Governors to meet with the CBN Management Team on unlocking growth potentials through agriculture .
The Governor of Borno State, Prof. Zanna Zulum who made the request on behalf of the States said the North -Eastern States were heavily burdened by the deductions because of the spate of insurgency and have become hamstrung in activating agricultural initiatives because of their cost implications.
The CBN had earlier restructured States loans in 2016 during the bailout palliatives to assist the States meet up with salaries and other emoluments obligations in the wake of the recessionary effects at the time .
Also on the shopping lists of the visiting Governors were the assistance in the provision of electricity to help agro processing and storage as well as more credit lines through the Development Finance Department of the apex bank.
Responding, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele promised to work with the States to reap the potentials in agriculture in the country .
He listed the many initiatives undertaken by the apex bank to boost food production in the country so as to cut down on import and save foreign exchange for Nigeria.
In line with the objective, he announced that the CBN has added cassava derivatives to the list of foreign exchange ban for import into the country.
“We have indeed begun to restrict Forex for importers of all cassava derivatives into the country such as ethanol and starch, he stated”.
Emefiele, explained that the action was taken because Nigeria was the largest producer of cassava and wondered why Nigeria should be importing cassava derivatives into the country.
The governor also disclosed that the CBN has disbursed about N30 billion for the cultivation of oil palm to meet domestic consumption requirements. He said:”The annual demand for palm oil in Nigeria stands at 2.5m mt of which only 1.25m mt, is produced locally leaving a gap of 1.25m mt per annum. This gap is currently being met through imports. The Central Bank of Nigeria Oil Palm Initiative is aimed at closing the gap and also positioning Nigeria to incrementally export oil palm products to neighboring African countries and beyond.
“Closing the identified gap would require bringing about 312,500 hectares under modern cultivation at an estimated yield of 4 metric tons per hectare. Our target is to ensure that a minimum of 1.4 million ha of land is put under oil palm cultivation in three years.
“As a step in this direction, the Bank had met with 14 State Governors who pledged to make available 100,000ha of land in each state. We currently have a total of 904,624 hectares which are available in the states for allocation and investors have been matched with the States of interest to process necessary documentation and titling requirement.
“The investors are to be funded from the Bank’s intervention programme. However, some of the States are slow in making the land available to these investors.
“So far a total of about N30 billion has been disbursed through deposit money banks in favour of 6 oil palm companies to support their expansion programmes. The companies are PZ Wimar, Biase oil company ltd, Eyop, Okomu Oil company, Presco Oil Company, SIAT Ltd.
“We are expecting application in favour of Ada Palm IMO State. Over 40 applications from investors across the country for the cultivation of 126,694 hectares are being considered,” Emefiele further disclosed.