Senate orders CBN to go after defaulters of N1.079trn Anchor Borrowers loans

Senate orders CBN to go after defaulters of N1.079trn Anchor Borrowers loans

The Senate, through its ad hoc committee probing the issuance of N22.7 trillion Ways and Means to the Federal Government during President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has directed the apex bank to recover much of the N1.079 trillion given as loans to farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Loan Scheme.

The N1.079 trillion given as loans to farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Scheme was part of the money spent from the N22.7 trillion given as an overdraft to the President Buhari-led government by CBN from 2015 to 2023, which later increased to N30 trillion on account of accrued interests.

Miffed by the poor handling of the recovery of the loans, particularly the N1.079 trillion given to farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the chairman of the committee, Senator Jibrin Isah (APC, Kogi East), at an interface with officials of CBN on Wednesday this week, directed the apex bank to debit commercial banks used for the disbursement of the loan from source.

Senator Isah ‘s directive was given after unsatisfactory explanations offered by CBN officials led by Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Bala Bello, on the poor recovery of the loan.

“They defaulted and why do they default? You can’t restructure the loan forever. You can go after the collateral; you must up your game; we need to recover these monies. We can’t continue to restructure forever. We are talking about N358 billion that hasn’t been repaid and is at risk of default.

“For those that have defaulted, I suggest that we put a peg on the interest. Our focus should be on the principal. On that, those loans must have been guaranteed by the banks. I want to believe that those banks must have covered their backs with collateral.

“I am sure no bank will grant loans without collateral. They must open up to you. We have the power to go through the whole hog by debiting them at source. We can do that; let them go to court,” he said.

The CBN Deputy Governor, in his explanations to the committee on how the yet-to-be-recovered loans are being tackled, expressed regrets over the lack of supervision by the immediate past management of the CBN under its erstwhile governor, Godwin Emefiele.

He assured the lawmakers that the new management is doing everything possible to recover the outstanding loans.

“On our own part, I want to tell you that the new management of CBN has given us a mandate to get the money back. We are under responsibility to recover this money; it belongs to taxpayers.

“It saddens my heart to answer questions about things we don’t know. But we inherit both assets and liabilities. Things could have been done better,” he lamented.

On the N30 trillion Ways and Means, Senator Jibrin Isah, who doubles as chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, expressed disappointment that the CBN Act was observed in breach by its immediate past governor, Godwin Emefiele, who, he noted, unilaterally approved loans without recourse to the statutory approving authority, the Committee of Governors.

“Under the Ways and Means, the Committee of Governors should have been the approving authority. But the CBN Governor did not do that; he unilaterally approved.

“We also want to know the total figure of the Ways and Means because what we have here the figures don’t add up. We want to know who got what,” he stressed.

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