Kaduna, March 14, 2017: The Federal Government is to restructure the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), to support the diversification programme of the present administration, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh announced on Tuesday in Kaduna.
Ogbeh gave the hint at the launch of Capacity Building and Institutional Strengthening of Bank of Agriculture.
Represented by Mr. Godwin Obinna-Opara, an official in the ministry, Ogbeh said the present administration had approved the restructuring aimed at strengthening the bank for optimal service delivery to farmers.
According to the minister, restructuring, re-capitalising and repositioning of BOA is one of such programmes President Muhammadu Buhari has given his approval.
He said the bank remained key instrument required for funding agricultural activities to help diversify the economy and move away from over-reliance on oil.
“At no other time in the history of Nigeria that government has taken such interest and time to assess the operations of BOA with a view to exploring this potential by adopting appropriate financing measures needed.
“Our country currently needs a financing mechanism that will help small holder farmers, agro-prenurials and SMEs to access credit facilities at affordable cost.
“As a matter of fact, we’re looking at single digit interest rate, that is what we believe in the ministry,” Ogbeh said.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), Mr Paul Eluhaiwe, had said that the Bank of Agriculture “is sick and needs restructuring.”
Eluhaiwe, however, explained that BOA had the needed resources to turn its fortunes for the better.
“Posterity will not forgive us if we fail to turn it around because the bank has all the resources in this world to be turned around for the good of Nigerian farmers.
Also, Dr Vincent Akpotaire, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), had also said that BOA would be restructured to meet a model that would assist in doing agro-business particularly with rural populace who are mostly farmers.
“Specifically, policy and regulation of the bank would undergo the needed restructuring, staff capacity and financial base.
“Its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will also be restructured to meet international standards in agro-allied enterprises.
“I wonder why BOA will not succeed in Nigeria, if others have succeeded somewhere else in the world; there must be checks and balance in loan being given out.
“BOA should not just be a conduit for giving out loan, it should also be a conduit to recovering the loan being given out,” Akpotaire said.
Meanwhile, Mr Andoh Mensah, Chief Country Programme Officer, AfDB, said the on-going economic downturn had financially weakened BOA in bridging the gap between rural and urban populace in terms of accessing loans.
Mensah pledged the support of the AfDB to BOA even as he said, “we remain committed to working with BOA.”
Earlier, BOA’s Acting Managing Director, Mr Babatunde Igun said that the bank was financially weak in addition to other challenges militating against its optimal performance.
He said the bank was working to improve its staff skills for effective service delivery.
Igun said that the bank would brace up for modern agricultural activities that would attract competitiveness and deliver its core mandate to farmers.
The AfDB recently approved a grant of $1.1 million dollars for the Bank of Agriculture to undertake the restructuring programme aimed at staff training to strengthen service delivery.(TNE)