By Nosa Akenzua in Asaba
Delta State House of Assembly on Wednesday, in its determination to improve the wellbeing of Deltans through famers’ loans, ratified a-N1.250billion loan facility for agricultural processes in the state.
The loan facility, the speaker of the House, Mr. Sheriff Oborevwori, told journalists, was offered by Zenith Bank Plc in partnership with the state House of Assembly and the government.
He said the facility would enable the state participate in the commercial agricultural credit scheme (CACS) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) contained in a letter from the governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, to the House.
The governor in his letter, had requested that the loan tenure would spread over 15 months equal, and consecutive monthly repayment of N88,420 million covering principal, and interest to be secured at source by Accountant General of the federation (AGf) as first line charge against Delta state Government’s Statutory Allocation (FAAC) Account in favour of Zenith Bank Plc.
The Speaker explained that the loan attracts a subsidised interest rate of 9% per annum which was subject to upward or downward review with CBN and CAC’s guidelines with penal rate pegged at 1% flat per month on unpaid instalments, in addition to the prevailing rate of interest payable on outstanding loan.
In the letter, a copy obtained by our reporter, the governor explained that the state Executive council (SEC) Meeting held on Wednesday July 11, 2018, culminated the request for the Assembly’s ratifications to enable the state access to the CBN programme.
Responding to the letter that was read at the floor of the House by the Speaker, Majority Leader of the House, Tim Owhefere, moved that the letter be received by the House, and was seconded by the member representing Ukwuani, Alphonsus Ojo opening debate on the request said it was clearly a requisition for a loan to enable the state boost its agricultural prospects.
Ojo said: “the rate at which Nigeria depends on crude oil is alarming, if we do not have crude oil, how do we survive?
“This moves us to go back to the pre-oil era, we all know that in Delta state, government has been involved in Agricultural projects in the state, a project of this caliber from CBN should hence be encouraged, it means those involved in Agricultural projects now have a new breath of fresh air in the interest of Delta state, and Nigeria at large, this will spur farmers to improve their productivity.”
Joining in the debate, the member representing Ika North East, Emeka Elekeokwuri, argued that the interest rate for the loan was all time low compared to the conventional interest rate, making it a good omen for the agricultural value clime in the state.
But the member representing Ughelli North 1, Samuel Mariere, argued that the fact that Delta state is an agrarian society has been taken for granted, adding, “One of the major problems facing farming in the state is funding of agriculture. “
The request was unanimously ratified following a voice vote thrown open by the Speaker to the floor.