By Ignatius Chukwu
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is said to have at last approved the loan being sought by the Rivers State government for some years now. The news was broken by Gov Nyesom Wike in Port Harcourt Wednesday April 14, 2021.
The governor said though the loan came a bit after the state government had completed the project, but that the fund was still well come. The governor had earlier disclosed N5Bn as the amount the state was asking for but did not disclose how much was approved.
He said the CBN leadership would be invited to grace the commissioning in May 2021.
About 3000 farmers would have to begin supply of cassava to the mega processor just completed by the Rivers State government.
The complex located in Afam area of the state has been under construction for almost 10 years but has at last been completed, according to the state governor, Nyesom Wike, who has lined it up for commissioning in May 2021.
At a presentation of processed cassava flour to him and members of the Rivers State Executive Council on Wednesday, by members of management and board of the Rivers State Cassava Processing company, Gov Wike endorsed the inauguration of the facility in May, 2021.
The governor noted that in 2015, when he assumed office, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), one of the shareholders in the company, was downsizing its operations in the country, and it was going to impede actualising the cassava factory if nothing was done.
So, he said, his administration took the decision to finance the project and today it has paid off because it is now completed and ready for production with its attendance job creation benefits.
“We put all the funds we could muzzle and today, we give God the glory, that we have achieved it. 3000 farmers will be benefitting. If you calculate 3000 farmers making money and the multiplier effects, you’ll be talking about 6000 persons.
Governor Wike noted that there should not have been delay for the Central Bank of Nigeria to support such venture especially because they saw the level of zeal and commitment the state shown which was also in line with Federal Government policy that demand cassava flour to be a component of baking flour.
The governor, however, expressed appreciation to the Central Bank of Nigeria for eventually approving money for the project even if it was coming when it has been completed.
“We did not get support from anywhere, either from the Central Bank of Nigeria, or from any bank, at the onset. I complained to the Governor of Central Bank that if there is one project that they must support it is this Cassava Processing Company.
“The Federal Government policy on cassava flour is being talked about so much. So, for a state that has shown the zeal and commitment, there is the need that it should be supported.
“Again, I spoke with the Governor of Central Bank recently and he said ok, they’re happy with us. I was surprised the other day, that they approved funds for us even though we have completed the project. But I have to still thank them for giving us loan which we are going to pay back.
“We will invite the Governor of Central Bank and the Minister of Agriculture to come and see that ours is not mere talking.”
In his presentation, the Project Manager of Rivers State Cassava Processing Company Limited, Reuben Geisen, said they have successfully energised and test-run the factory that will produce high quality cassava flour from the installed machines.
“I will like to thank the Rivers State Government and his Excellency for your patience and opportunity given us to see this project through to the very end.
“Today, we have a factory that is operational and that can benefit 3000 farmers, on a yearly basis, with a steady income by buying-off their cassava tubers. It will also have a multiplier effect across the agricultural sector as rural agriculture is still a labour intensive activity in this part of the world.
“You have provided a very stable form of income, it will give sustainability to the rural parts of Rivers State. We also want to use this opportunity to present to you the very first product from the day it was produced and give you a glimpse of it.
“The machinery and equipment were configured to produce 50 kilogram bags to key into the inclusion policy of the federal government whereby it is expected that 10 percent cassava flour will be included in the general baking flour.”
The Commissioner of Agriculture, Fred Kpakol, confirmed that the factory that would turn cassava tuber to flour would be commissioned in May.
Similarly, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, said Rivers State is at threshold of agricultural revolution with the completion of the cassava processing factory.
According to him, Rivers state is once again setting the pace in agricultural revolution as the cassava processing factory is technologically driven.