Over 100,000 potential farmers and small scale industrialists who had applied for different categories of loans ranging from N3 million to N10 million have been rendered stranded, following the refusal of the management of Nigerian Incentives Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to disburse the loans to them at the end of a stipulated period.
NIRSAL, a micro-finance bank was established and domiciled in general post offices throughout the federation by the federal government to partner with Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and Economic Development Institute, EDI in granting loans to farmers and industrialists for the purpose of boosting food production and industries in the country.
The loan applicants had coordinated themselves as a group since two years ago, obtained their forms from NIRSAL in Onitsha with stipulated amount of non refundable fee, completed all formalities, under went a two-week intensive management training at EDI, opened an account with NIRSAL and were ready to take delivery of the funds, only for them to receive a bulk text from NIRSAL management informing them that the funds would no longer be disbursed as a result of anticipated risk involvement.
The text message from NIRSAL management read thus: “Dear applicant, kindly note tat your loan application has been declined because your request does not meet our current Risk Acceptance Criteria. Thanks You”.
After going through the text, the applicants converged on General Post office along the Old Market Road, Onitsha where NIRSAL office is domiciled and were about to embark on massive demonstration when officials of the Campaign for Democracy, CD, Anambra state chapter waded in and temporarily calmed the frayed nerves.
CD however pleaded with the applicants to disperse and give them at least two weeks from now within which to embark on a joint massive protests with an active involvement of other civil society organizations on the process.
State Chairman of CD, Comrade Ekene Nnadi who spoke to newsmen in Onitsha over the development, wondered why NIRSAL management allowed all the applicants to buy the forms with not less than N25,000 each, sent them to EDI for training with with not less than N30,000 to N40,000 per applicant, mandated them to open an account with a minimum of N5,000 and above and thereafter told them that their loan application has been declined because their request does not meet the financial institution’s current Risk Acceptance Criteria.
Nnadi who lamented that all the loan applicants in the northern parts of the country have received their funds, said CD viewed this action as one of the marginalization exploits against Ndigbo and called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the CBN to wade into the fraudulent activities of NIRSAL.
Describing the action as a grand conspiracy between NIRSAL, CBN and EDI to extort the applicants, Nnadi also called on National Assembly members from the South East zone and State government itself to take a critical look at the situation and intervene on behalf of the applicants who had exhausted all avenues to no avail to get the loan and move into massive agriculture and industrialization.
All efforts to get in touch with the branch manage of NIRSAL in Onitsha proved abortive as he was said to have traveled out of town for other official engagements.