A STATEMENT BY THE COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS LED BY HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) ON FALSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST NIRSAL PLC
Gentlemen of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, we humbly welcome you all to this media event organised by a coalition of 16 organisations drawn from all across Nigeria but spearheaded by the prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
We want to first and foremost let you know that this briefing session is completely our independent initiative in our capacity as a coalition of Nigerian civil society organisations who have no political affiliations but are passionate about achieving just and equitable development in our dear country.
Our coalition is a team of professionals who have come together to advance the single agenda of building a formidable and economically strong united Nigeria.
We need not belabour you with our strong track record collective within the organised civil society community in Nigeria which spans nearly two decades of an unblemished record of patriotism.
It has come to our notice that the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL PLC ), an institution that is playing a key role in the transformation of Nigerian agriculture has been the subject of a vicious and sustained campaign of calumny over the past two years.
This campaign which has intensified in the last six months is being executed by faceless elements who hide behind compromised social media platforms to throw mud at the organization.
Currently, they are using a compromised high profile “activist” online platform to launch personal attacks against the leadership of NIRSAL PLC.
To achieve their nefarious objectives, they have forged fake documents, organised fake protests, sponsored fake farmers groups and induced unprofessional media platforms which lack integrity to publish unverified falsehoods against the institution.
They have also tried to instigate the security agencies through baseless unsubstantiated reports based on the same fake allegations which they have sponsored in the social media.
The allegations have ranged from mismanagement of funds by its current leadership to claims of discrimination and favouritism.
Significantly, despite the media campaign and reports made to the security agencies, no evidence of impropriety has been found.
WHY NIRSAL PLC DESERVES SUPPORT
We, the Coalition of Civil Society organizations are very concerned about the ongoing campaign against NIRSAL PLC for the following reasons:
First, the efforts to distract and even disable NIRSAL PLC is not in the interest of the nation because this 5-year-old institution’s mandate as given to it by the Central Bank of Nigeria, its sole shareholder, is central to the focus on agriculture by the Buhari administration, the sector that is the number one employer of labour and the lynchpin of the nation’s plans for a post-oil future.
Second, there is clear evidence that NIRSAL PLC is doing justice to its mandate. It is an established fact that the institution, in just a few short years of its corporate existence has facilitated about N110 billion from the financial sector into agriculture. In the process, it has contributed to the creation of millions of jobs and the improvement of the lives of smallholder farmers across the country.
Third, NIRSAL PLC is adding significant value in other areas, notably agricultural insurance where it is working with partners to create and popularize innovative insurance packages that will reduce the risks faced by Nigerian farmers and help them to benefit more from their toil.
Fourthly and related to the above, the institution is making brisk progress with its AgroGeoCoops scheme which is projected to create about 16,000 farmer-cooperatives on 4 million hectares of farmland, enrol about 8 million farmers to produce about 12million metric tonnes of Grain Product Equivalent annually, across Nigeria.
It is totally incredible to us that an institution that is working so hard for the country, without any budgetary appropriation by the Federal Government nor allocation of funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria, yet achieving solid results in a critical area of national development such as agriculture, can be subjected to endless attacks in pursuit of nefarious political goals and negative economic interests.
It is important to note that NIRSAL PLC is a very unique, peerless and smart organization specially designed and created by the Central Bank of Nigeriaat no cost at all to both the Federal Government of Nigeria as well as the CBN itself, yet this organization remains a profitable going concern whose meagre earnings are entirely spent for the public good while contributing immensely to the economic development of the country. Other countries in Africa have been so impressed at the value-generating capacity of NIRSAL PLC that they have, on several occasions, invited the current leadership of NIRSAL to assist in replicating this same institution in their respective jurisdictions.
NIRSAL PLC’s leadership deserves the gratitude and commendation of the nation, not constant attacks. In fact, from today we hereby undertake to advocate for NIRSAL PLC to earn the highest National Productivity Merit Award in Nigeria.
OUR POSITION AND DEMANDS
The sponsors of this campaign of falsehood and calumny must not be allowed to achieve their evil plans. If we sit back and fold our arms whilst this evil is allowed to fester, then we will be shooting ourselves in the foot destroying a unique creation of Nigeria which is presently an envy of other countries in Africa and beyond.
Gentlemen of the media, we are by this statement demanding that within the next one week, the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu should commence investigation and invite for interrogation, these bunch of detractors, traversing the entire length and breadth of the media industry in their campaign of calumny against the Management of NIRSAL PLC under its Managing Director, the erudite and hardworking Mr Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed.
We will thereby rise from this briefing by writing a petition to the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu to call on him officially to investigate and invite the individuals behind theseunrelenting tissues of lies and innuendos targeting the person of the Mr Abdulhameed.
We also urge the Presidency not to be deceived by this evil campaign against the person of the MD of NIRSAL PLC because those making these baseless allegations are working hard to scuttle the government's agenda for agriculture revolution.
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko