We did not guarantee loans for Shonga farms -Ex-Governor Ahmed –

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Former Kwara State Governor Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed says claims that his administration and that of Bukola Saraki guaranteed bank loans to Shonga Farm Holdings (SFH) are misinformed and untrue.

In a statement by Wahab Oba, his media assistant, Alhaji Ahmed, who was finance commissioner when Shonga Farms was established and whose administration established Harmony Holdings Limited, SFH’s supervisory company, said Shonga Farms is a public-private partnership (PPP) financed through a debt-equity structure and owned by the state government, a consortium of banks and Zimbabwean farmers.

The former governor maintained that the Kwara State government had invested in the project through infrastructure for the farms and its communities such as roads, electricity, water and security infrastructure which are still intact.
SFH, he revealed, secured bank loans for its expansion using its assets as collateral, adding that a state government can only guarantee a loan through its federal allocation, which has no never been pledged.

Dr Ahmed reiterated that not all businesses are thriving, pointing out that while the poultry sector remains viable, the milk union stagnated when a global dairy company canceled its buyer agreement with SFH. The mixed crop section, he said, has stalled due to irrigation problems following the federal government’s reneging on its promise to help with irrigation.

Former Governor Ahmed said some of the farms have secured new investment to repay their loans to banks through SFH, which has paid over N600 million out of N900 million outstanding at AMCON.

The former governor exonerated the previous two administrations of any wrongdoing in exploiting a business opportunity that attracted investment to the state, developed the local community and put Kwara State on the global map.

According to Ahmed, SFH has attracted foreign and local investment in excess of $100 million and created over 4,000 direct and indirect local jobs in addition to knowledge transfer to the local community.

He maintained that his and Saraki’s administration followed due process in all SFH-related dealings, a quality that earned the state government a high rating from global ratings agency Fitch.

While acknowledging that SFH’s funding model was innovative, Ahmed urged the state government to seek clarification from professionals rather than indulge in play-acting that could discourage investment in the state.

The former governor urged the state government to focus on overtaking the investment flows recorded under previous administrations including Dangote Industries and BUA Sugar Company.

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