Immediate past Kwara State Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed has claimed that his and the Bukola Saraki administrations guaranteed bank loans for Shonga Farm Holdings (SFH) are uninformed and false.
In a statement by Wahab Oba, his media aide, Alhaji Ahmed, who was Commissioner of Finance when Shonga Farms was established and whose administration created Harmony Holdings Limited, SFH’s supervisory company, said Shonga Farms is a public-private partnership (PPP) funded under a debt-equity structure and owned by the state government, a consortium of banks and the Zimbabwean farmers.
The former Governor maintained that the Kwara State government invested in the project through infrastructure for the farms and its communities such as roads, electricity, water and security infrastructure that are still intact.
SFH, he revealed, secured bank loans for expansion using its assets as collateral, adding a state government can only guarantee a loan through its federal allocation, which was never pledged.
Dr Ahmed reiterated that not all businesses are thriving, stressing that while the poultry business remains viable, the diary syndicate stagnated when a global milk company cancelled its off-taker arrangement with SFH. The mixed crop section, he said, stalled due to irrigation problems as a result of federal governnent’s renege on its promise to assist with irrigation.
Ex-governor Ahmed said some of the farms secured new investment to pay off their loans to the banks through SFH, which has paid over N600m out of an outstanding N900m to AMCON.
The former governor exonerated the previous two administrations of any wrongdoing in exploiting a business opportunity that attracted investments into the state, developed the local community and placed Kwara State on the global map.
According to Ahmed, SFH attracted foreign and local investments above 100 million USD and has created over 4000 direct and indirect local jobs besides knowledge transfer to the local community.
He maintained that his and the Saraki administration followed due process in all transactions relating to SFH, a quality that earned the state government a high ranking from the global rating agency, Fitch.
While acknowledging that the SFH financing model was innovative, Ahmed urged the state government to seek clarifications from professionals rather than indulging in theatrics capable of discouraging investment in the state.
The former Governor urged the state government to focus on surpassing investment inflows recorded during the previous administrations, including Dangote Industries and BUA Sugar Company.