N500bn Development Fund: Senate committee threatens CBN governor, others

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Abuja, Dec. 1, 2022 – The Senate Ad-hoc Committee on uneven disbursement of N500 billion Development Fund by Development Bank of Nigeria on Wednesday threatened to arrest CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele and three others for failing to honour its invitation.

The three others are Managing Director of Bank of Industry, Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Aliyu Abdulhamid; and Director General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria ( SMEDAN), Olawale Fasanya.

Senator Sani Musa (APC Niger East), the Chairman of the Committe, had threatened to arrest the head of the agencies for their absence at the investigative hearing carried out on Wednesday on the alleged uneven disbursement of N500 billion development fund. 

He said that out of the eight government agencies that were needed for the investigation, five were invited to appear before the committee at the Wednesday session. 

“Out of these five, only two came, while the remaining three, which are the CBN, BOI and NIRSAL, were conspicuously absent without any letter from them explaining why.

“Assignment before this committee is a very important one, requiring cooperation and compliance from all those linked to issues at hand .

“MD of DBN and his counterpart from the Bank of Agriculture are here for required clarifications and explanations, making it mandatory for CBN Gov,  MD of BOI and DG of NISRAL to appear unfailingly in subsequent sessions or risk being coerced through issuance of warrant of arrest”, he said.

Musa said that the Ministers of Finance, Zainab Ahmed; Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; and Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouq; would appear before the committee on Thursday for required submissions on roles played in the alleged uneven disbursement of funds.

In his submission before the committee, the Managing Director of DBN, Tony Okpanachi.denied deliberate lopsidedness in the disbursement of the fund. 

He said the laid down criteria set by the CBN were used for disbursement of the fund.

“Our lending has criteria and they are the same with those set by the Central Bank of Nigeria,” he said. 

He said that for a business to qualify for a DBN loan, it must have less than 250 employees and must not have done a turnover of more than N1.1 billion. 

“We do a risk assessment of the participating financial institutions (PFIs) before they begin to lend to businesses. We don’t want to give out money and the money fritters away. So we track the end users of the loans yearly,” he said. 

Tony Okpanachi said that the location of the registered MSMEs in Nigeria also explained the reason for the loan’s disbursement. 

He said that out of the registered MSMEs across Nigeria, Lagos alone  has 25%, South West 23%, South South 18%, South East 10%, North Central 10%, North West 9%, FCT 4% and North East 2%. (GBN)

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