One of the main fertilizer investors in Nigeria, Thomas Etuh, has accused persons who benefit from the importation of the resource of trying to derail the efforts of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative started by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017.
Etuh said their attempt had taken the shape of claims that there was a N300bn scam in the PFI, a private public partnership overseen by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority.
“I am aware that there are elements in the Nigerian business environment that are determined to go to great lengths in an attempt to scuttle the gains so far made through the PFI programme,” Etuh said. “The importation regime that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has shut down was profiting a few people at the expense of Nigerian farmers and the Federal Government. Those in this clique apparently want to throw in everything to ensure a return to the old order.
"But it is on record that through the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative, the Buhari administration has solved the cartelisation of fertiliser business with all the subsidy racketeering associated with it.”
The Tak Agro owner said facts of the N300bn corruption claim do not exist. According to him, the total sum of investment into the PFI has not reached N300bn and he could not have embezzled all of the N50bn single-digit loan released for the initiative in 2017 plus an extra N250bn.
“There is no way this could ever have been possible given that N300bn is the equivalent of $783m or $923m depending on which forex rate used.
"It is easily verifiable that the PFI is run with funds borrowed under the CBN’s Real Sector Support Funds. The entire amount borrowed in 2017 was N50bn.
"Even if you borrowed N50bn every year from 2017 to date and never paid back a kobo, the entire amount would still not add up to N300bn.
“How then could N300bn have been siphoned from the programme,” he said.
Etuh said the scheme, which he is implementing as part of the private sector coalition, has crashed the price of a bag of fertilizer from between N11,000 and N13,000, to a retail price of N5,500.
Explaining the strategy applied to bring about the over 100 per cent price reduction, Etuh said, “The program simply aggregated the total raw material requirements to achieve scale which it leveraged in purchasing negotiations.
"All the savings achieved in so doing were passed on to the farmers in the form of lower prices.
"You may recall that in December 2016, the King of Morocco, His Royal Majesty Mohammed VI, paid a two-day state visit to Nigeria. During the visit, the two leaders signed several agreements, one of which was a partnership between the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria and OCP, a state-owned Moroccan company and a world leader in phosphate and its derivatives. In the agreement, OCP would supply discounted phosphate to Nigeria to help support the domestic blending of NPK Fertiliser starting in 2017.
"NSIA secured N50bn in RSSF loans at low single digits and the savings was passed on to the farmers. These and other cost saving strategies was how in 2017 the programme was able to achieve the goal of selling fertiliser at N5,000 per bag ex-blending plant and at a recommended retail price of N5,500 per bag.”