Towards the end of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the federal government ordered the release of maize to ameliorate the hardship of many poor Nigerians and poultry farmers in states as a result of massive floods that destroyed maize farms.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released some stocks from its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme while the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also released some quantities from its strategic reserves.
The incumbent President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, weeks ago, also directed the release of grains to farmers and households. Many observers, however, said what remained in the reserves and the stock from the CBN’s programme was no longer significant to make any meaningful impact.
While some states had taken stock of delivery from Buhari’s allocation and shared same among members, reports from Katsina indicate that officials of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) have been pacifying its members who are yet to receive their grains.
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A video circulating in the social media also shows that some of the maize were badly affected by aflatoxins. However, Daily Trust on Sunday could not independently verify its authenticity.
In Kano State, the state chairman of the PAN, Alhaji Umar Usman Kibiya, revealed that though the association had been allocated about 20 metric tonnes of maize through the Nigerian Commodity Exchange Commission, disbursement of the grain is still not realistic.
He explained that the agreed allocation was made before President Tinubu’s directive, adding that many feed millers have given up on the said grains because access to it has become very difficult despite making payments to that effect.
“We were made to believe that the feed mills that have since paid their money to the commission were asked to come for a refund as the grains wouldn’t be released to them,” he said.
According to him, members of the association are still battling with the high cost of feed as maize has become very expensive. He said the president’s directive had not been effective.
It is blame game in Benue
The chairman of the PAN in Benue State, Chabo Francis, alleged that the maize allocated to farmers in the state was not given to them, saying it was taken away by the powers-that-be.
He alleged that the two trucks of maize allocated to the association was collected by Oracle Farm, which belongs to the former governor of the state, Dr Samuel Ortom following the inability of the farmers to redeem their annual subscription.
Francis said, “The maize was collected but not given to farmers, the big men in the industry, Oracle Farm took it because there were some issues the farmers could not meet up.
“The issue is that we have a subscription we pay yearly at the PAN national office, but we were not able to pay subscription. The former governor paid it and took the whole maize to his farm. The maize was up to two trucks.”
But the spokesman of the former governor, TerverAkase, debunked the allegation, saying that although his principal founded Oracle Farms, he had long resigned his chairmanship of those companies before becoming governor.
“As far as I am concerned, my principal is not on the board of Oracle, so he couldn’t have paid and collected whatever they are talking about. That is not possible, he doesn’t run Oracle.
“They are just blaming an innocent person to make him look bad in the eyes of the public. I advised them to refrain from such act because they have no proof. People shouldn’t just rise up every day and accuse Ortom of things he knows nothing about because he was the governor of Benue State,” Akase added.
In Niger, the state secretary of the Poultry Farmers Association, Mohammed Audi Adamu, said the chapter received 120 metric tonnes of maize at the cost of N21.6m.
“There was an allocation that came to us last year from the last administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, but we paid for it. We received 120 metric tonnes, about 1, 200 bags at the cost of N21.6m, which was about N15, 000 per bag.
“Before we received the maize, we were asked to make payment within 72 hours or forfeit the allocation. So, we had to get some people to source for money and we made payment and later brought the allocation.
“Aside that, when allocation came, the difference with market price was about N3,000. That allocation was done by the CBN. Although we heard of another allocation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in form of palliative, we didn’t get that one. We were told it was free,” he explained.
From Edo State, the farmers confirmed the allocation of maize but could not meet up with the payment.
The chairman Poultry Farmers Association of Nigeria said the past administration gave corn to poultry farmers in the state but couldn’t get it due to the high fee placed on it by the federal government.
He said, “They demanded money, but we were not able to raise it because the time was too short. Before we could raise the money, they said time had elapsed.”
“We were asked to pay N27.5m for four trucks of the maize.”
He said the incident was affecting poultry farmers as the cost of feeding was too high for them, adding that most the farmers have been out of business due to the high cost of feed.
“Poultry business has gone down because of the high cost of feed. We don’t have the money to buy feed. The economic situation added to our woes. Many could not sell their birds and had to short down. They have not come back to business,” he said.
In Plateau State, the chairman of the association, Johnson Bagudu, told our correspondent that they received the maize in June and they paid about N33m for it.
Bagudu further explained that the five trucks weighed 150 metric tonnes, stressing that at the price they bought, it was still subsided.
He said each bag was purchased at N22,000, while it was N25,000 in the market.
Meanwhile, he pointed out that they would not know if the maize they received was that of Buhari or the Tinubu administration although they received it during the Tinubu government.
He said what they received recently were trucks of maize given to states.
He alleged that upon paying their money, the trucks of maize for Plateau were taken to Gombe State and they had to go there to receive it, adding that they have since distributed them to their members accordingly.
By Vincent A. Yusuf (Abuja), Ibrahim Musa Giginyu (Kano), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Usman A. Bello (Benin) & Dickson S. Adama (Jos)