Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on Friday, clarified that the N7.6 billion loan approved by the House of Assembly on Thursday for the upgrading of two farm settlements in Akufo and Eruwa, to Farm Estates, is a victory for the people of Oyo State in their pursuit of agricultural sustainability and economic emancipation.
The governor also made it clear that the loan was not a fresh one being sought by his government.
The Oyo State helmsman, who described the decision of the state House of Assembly to grant immediate access to the loan facility, said the loan was borrowed from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for “agricultural equipment” by the immediate past administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Governor Makinde had, in May 2019 when he was still governor-elect, moved to prevent the misappropriation of the funds by approaching the Oyo State High Court in Ibadan to get an injunction restraining the Ajimobi-led administration from accessing and spending the loan few days to the end of the tenure.
Governor Makinde maintained that contrary to insinuations that he was obtaining an additional N7.6 billion loan after an initial approval for N10 billion loan facility for infrastructure development, the N7.6 billion loan had already been approved by the CBN before he got to office.
He added that the apex bank had begun to deduct money from Oyo State’s Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocations from source to repay the loan.
The Governor stated that his administration had only approached the House of Assembly to seek approval to change the purpose of the loan facility, so that it could be put to better use in developing farm estates in Eruwa and Akufo farm settlements in the state in a pilot scheme that will be used as a model for the state-wide farm estate initiative of the administration.
Governor Makinde further explained that limiting the scope of the project to Akufo and Eruwa Farm Settlements, which were in the same federal constituency, was to allow for effective planning, monitoring, evaluation and coordination for the pilot scheme, adding that the project would extend to other settlements across the state, as his administration will remain fair to all zones in the state.
According to Governor Makinde, “the farm estates will serve as pilot schemes for our Private Public Development Partnership (PPDP) Farm Estates and will eventually generate funds to develop the other seven farm settlements in Oyo State. This is a deliberate plan aimed at creating sustainable development in the state.”
On the issue of the N10 billion loan earlier approved by the House of Assembly in July this year, Governor Makinde said: “The N10 billion is still intact as it has not yet been accessed. The loan is meant for specific infrastructural development projects. Once the Due Process Office is through with the approval process of hiring contractors for the earmarked projects, we will start accessing the loan to fund these projects.
“Our administration will continue to be transparent and accountable to our people about how public funds are utilised in the state. We will ensure our people get value for any project that we execute, and also ensure that infrastructural development projects are tied to our economy.”