The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Thursday dismissed a recent publication on the social media alleging that he and the Minister of State got N2 billion bribe from the N37 billion agro-dealers outstanding payment.
Reacting to this, the minister said that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance to pay agro-dealers not the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
It will be recalled that the previous administration under the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) owed agro-dealers some payments which the present administration have been battling to pay, which in turn led to the review of the GES in order to cut cost.
According to the minister, “We read on the social media that there have been a bribery scandal in this ministry, and that in paying the agro-dealers we got money, paid out N13 billion and the Minister of State and I shared N2 billion.”
He therefore explained “first this was a debt which we inherited from the previous administration, the total debt was N37 billion and when we arrived, the agro-dealers said the couldn’t operate because they didn’t have enough money to carry out their business, so we pleaded with the government to see what they could do, to give us money to pay these debts.
“They gave us N20 billion to pay the debt profile we have on ground, then about a total of N67 billion out of which N37 billion belong to the agro-dealers and fertilizer suppliers.
“When the money got to the Ministry of Finance, we met with them, and they decided to handle the payment. The money never got to the ministry of Agriculture, we are happy they decided to do so because it took the burden off us.
Chief Ogbeh further said “We have met with the agro-dealers and said to them that we will… The payment, the minister of Finance on the other hand said the big producers, the main manufacturers of fertilizer, the bid blenders, they hold such a high profile that most of them have given notice of close down and it is them who make the production before agro-dealers buy them off to supply.”
“So they decided to pay off the big producers so that they can continue in business and pay the agro-dealers a portion of their money pending when more money will come.”
“How do you take money that is not under your control, the money is in the hands of the ministry of finance, the office of the Accountant General made the payment,” Ogbeh queried.