The Anchor Borrowers’ Loan Scheme, a program initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to boost agricultural production in the country, is facing a major setback as beneficiaries are refusing to repay the loan on the maturity date. With only N546 billion out of the disbursed N1.1 trillion repaid, there’s a staggering balance of N577 billion remaining.
Various beneficiaries, including commercial and microfinance banks, state governments, farmers’ associations, individuals, and corporate organizations, are holding onto the funds.
In response to this issue, President Bola Tinubu reportedly issued orders to security agencies, instructing them to recover the loan from defaulters by September 18, 2023. Top security agencies have been summoned and are urged to take all necessary actions to recover the outstanding amount.
According to reports, a subsidiary of the CBN and a commercial bank in Nigeria, acting as intermediaries, allegedly diverted N255 million obtained from the CBN but did not disburse or return it to the apex bank.
Some loan beneficiaries have cited inadequate returns on their investments as the reason for not repaying, requesting additional time to settle their debts.
In a joint effort, the CBN and NIRSAL Microfinance (NMfB) have initiated measures to recover their loans from defaulting Nigerians. Many Nigerians recently noticed debit alerts from their banks, including their dependents linked to their accounts.
NMfB has started the recovery process for loan facilities granted under the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) and the Agric, Small Medium Enterprises Scheme (AGSMEIS). The CBN had previously warned loan beneficiaries about the imminent recovery process.
It remains to be seen how successful the recovery efforts will be and if the September 18 deadline set by Tinubu will be met. The financial implications of the outstanding loan balance and the actions taken by the security agencies will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the Nigerian agricultural sector and the economy as a whole.