Findings have shown that, the corruption ongoing in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is far from over, as Directors in the ministry perpetrates these acts.
We gathered that, Cellulant Nigeria Limited is a Mobile Money company contracted by the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development to disburse farm inputs/implements to registered farmers across the country in line with the subsidy regime on agriculture of the federal government via the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES).Cellulant is supposed to liaise with the selected agro-dealers nationwide to make the products available for distribution to farmers but Cellulant through one Mr. Gbenga Owolabi with phone number: 08099307222 who is the head of Cellulant Abuja office connive with some officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and collect a bribe of #65,000 from each of the selected agro-dealers and any agro-dealer who refuse to pay the said amount is delisted from the selected agro-dealers list. It is pertinent to know that most of the federal and state Directors of Ministry of Agriculture are owners of most of the agro-dealers which makes it easier for the fraud to be perpetrated without any hindrance. Most of the agro-dealers are meant to pay the #65,000 to a bank account provided by Mr. Gbenga Owolabi, the head of Cellulant office in Abuja.
in a petition to the Minister of Justice, the farmers stated that, the agro-dealers mostly also increase/inflate figures of inputs given to farmers in order to recoup back their monies which they used in paying bribes to Cellulant and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and State Ministry of Agriculture officials. The inflated input figures are recorded by the agro-dealers and submitted to Cellulant and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Government end up paying for the inflated input figures.
Most of the Directors of Fertilizer Input Supply Department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Abuja and also state Directors of Fertilizer Input Supply Department of State Ministry of Agriculture are involved in the fraud.
We also gathered that, there is a case of validation card/farmer ID which is to be given to farmers free of charge but Cellulant in connivance with the agro-dealers and some staff of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and state ministries of Agriculture charge #200 for the cards. In fact, they usually charge #100 for the cards and later on increased the fee to #200 and no evidence of payment of such monies is given to the farmers. Protesting such injustice/fraud amounts to denial of inputs as the protesting farmer details will not be checked/entered talk more of allowing the said farmer to collect his/her inputs. Even fresh registration is not free as every farmer who wants to register at the redemption center is meant to pay #200 for the validation card/farmer ID if not he won’t be registered. So it is a case of you must pay #200 for the card which is meant to be free either to register or collect your inputs or nothing for you.
Some of the agro-dealers culpable are AT&S, Hulhude and Hasken Noma. Hulhude covers Niger state, FCT, Kaduna and some northern states while Hasken Noma covers Kano state and some northern states too and then AT&S covers Benue state. Even the agro-dealers who initially declined later on had to co-operate in order not to be de-listed and denied the contract of supplying inputs to the farmers due to the threat from Mr. Gbenga Owolabi of Cellulant Nigerian Limited Abuja office. This can be verified by the agro-dealers association of Nigeria.
It is pertinent to note that Cellulant Nigeria Limited has been under investigation by EFCC for some level of fraud perpetrated under Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan so it is highly surprising and disappointing that the same cellulant was awarded the contract to carry out the same assignment again by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. because I was part of those that applied for the CBN anchor borrowers program. I was not a beneficiary but I saw how many benefited. I am also aware that under your government, farming is becoming a profitable venture. It is no longer an occupation for the villagers. This has become evident in the sense that people are already struggling to acquire pieces of land for farming. I was privileged to become a registered farmer under your administration.
Recounting the ordeal, one of the farmers said, last year, I got registered under the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) of the Federal Government. I thought it was one of those dubious programs of the government as it used to be with previous administrations and as such i never took it seriously. I didn't know what it was even called then and had forgotten about it when on 6th January 2017; I received a message informing me that I have entered the register for wet season farming under GES. I was further informed that with the sum of #17,750, I was to be given 1x bag of NPK(50kg), 1x bag urea (50kg), 1x bag maize seedling (20kg), 1x bag organic fertilizer (50kg), 2x insecticides (2 litres), 2xherbicides (2 litres), 2x micronutrients (2 litres). I was surprised that somehow, what I thought earlier was not the case.
I went to the redemption center on the 24 th January, 2017, to claim my items and discovered that the Nigerian corruption agenda is very much alive and well. We had to buy a validation card for #200 before we could claim our items. I later came to understand that the card was supposed to be free. But like I have said, corruption mustalways find its way.
Instead of the #17,750 I was told in the SMS, I was told I was to pay #19,000 as against the #17,750. As an ordinary Nigerian that had no voice, I gave the said amount of #19,000 with no receipt issued. There was also no receipt issued for the #200 they collected for the validation card/farmer ID. as if that wasn’t enough, the items were incomplete. The herbicides went missing and so did the insecticides.
Although, I was given rice seedling (which I actually preferred) in place of maize and an additional NPK in place of the unavailable organic fertilizer. When I got home Baba, I discovered that one of the micro-nutrient had expired on 27th January, 2017.
Some of the farmers queried, who does the extra #1,250 go to? Who does the #200 go to? What happened to the herbicides and insecticides? Who supplied the expired micro-nutrients? They were made to pay more and got even less than what you gave me.
Reports say, on Tuesday 31 st January, 2017, unregistered farmers were waiting to register and registered farmers (my brother inclusive) also waited to collect their inputs but they didn’t show up only for those present to be told that they went for sensitization and will resume distribution the next day but they were nowhere to be found throughout that week and I tend to ask; are the remaining farmers’ inputs developing wings since they are not available to distribute the inputs?
Cellulant Nigeria Limited was sometimes placed on investigation by EFCC on fraud which has to do with the same Growth Enhancement
Support Scheme (GES) during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan whereby registered farmers’ numbers were inflated and inputs diverted and end up not reaching farmers. Cellulant Nigeria Limited is not worthy to have been re-awarded such contract by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development even though I learnt that the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in person of Chief Audu Ogbe OFR was never aware of such as all the information on past fraud by Cellulant Nigeria Limited was shrouded in secrecy and hidden from him by most of the beneficiary staff of the Ministry hence the reason why he renewed their contract.
Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) involving Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with Cellulant Nigeria Limited and the selected agro-dealers and it cuts across board as it is happening across all the states of the Federation.