Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State.
Cross River state governor, Sir Ben Ayade says the state may lose billions of naira to the Coronavirus pandemic unless the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the federal government urgently stepped in.
Ayade told newsmen Thursday at the Rice Seeds and Seedlings Factory in Calabar, that before the outbreak of Coronavirus the Factory had received an order of N8. 5billion worth of rice seedlings from the CBN for onward delivery to states.
According to the governor, the sudden outbreak of the global pandemic in Nigeria and the subsequent partial lockdown of the country has however, affected the evacuation of the seedlings which have since matured for transplanting, to farmers across the country.
Professor Ayade therefore, wants the CBN to indemnify Cross River against any monetary loss arising from the situation.
“We have a massive order of over N8.5b from CBN through the rice program and through the anchor borrowers program and in partnership with Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN .
“Having made that order and having secured an LPO to procure and deliver to the various States of Nigeria for this dry and wet seasons rice farming, Cross River state has massively invested in the seed multiplication and seed cultivation to seedlings. Now, we are prepared and fully ready for delivery.
“You can see the massive expanse of seedlings that are ready for delivery now but we have challenges of the off takers in line with the order that was made by CBN. This so because of lockdown of states , lockdown of the country”, the governor lamented.
Continuing, Professor Ayade pleaded with CBN and the federal government to ensure that the billions of Naira worth of Rice seedlings do not become waste.
“Please let us not allow this seedlings go to waste because of coronavirus. Federal government has to do something to protect the lives of these young seedlings, looking so fragile, so beautiful, so fresh and willing to change the landscape of agriculture, particularly the rice beneficiation process.
“It is my sincere commitment, it is my sincere wish and aspiration that CBN will appreciate the value on of the life of these seedlings. They have been brought into this world by the instrumentality of President Buhari’s policy thrust on rice, please let them not die, let them be transplanted so that they can grow food, so that when we are off the coronavirus saga, we should be able to have food to eat. This is my prayer, ” Ayade stated.
Speaking further Governor Ayade asserted thus: : “I call on the entire Nigeria to rise to this occasion. Coronavirus has caught up with the Cross River rice seed and seedlings business and CBN has to come to our rescue.
We cant afford to lose N3Billion plus. As a state, we have put in over N3 billion to do this investment at this first phase,” Ayade concluded.