The Jigawa State Governor, Badaru Abubakar, has dismissed a petition before the National Assembly linking him to a N46 billion fertilizer scam as a “story concocted to tarnish” his image.
Mr. Abubakar is the chairman of the Presidential Task force on Fertilizer.
Some members of the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria, PEPSAN, had last week accused him and the president of their association, Thomas Etuh, of hijacking a deal initiated last year by President Muhammadu Buhari and his Moroccan counterpart, King Mohammed, to enhance production of fertilizer in Nigeria.
Under the deal, some components would be imported at subsidised rate from Morocco to enable the production of fertilizer at a low price in Nigeria.
Mr. Abubakar was in the delegation of President Buhari to Morocco when the agreement was signed.
In a 6-page petition submitted to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, the group said Mr. Etuh, with the help of Mr. Badaru, allegedly used his company, TAK Agro, and his European agent to hijack the deal.
The petition was jointly signed by fertiliser dealers, Mohammed Sani, Felix Okonti, Chika Chukwudili Misbahu, Bello Sani, Noel Keyen, Nnamdi Okoro and Boniface Ukoko.
Responding to the allegation in Dutse on Monday, the governor said the petition was concocted to frustrate the plan of the federal government.
He said the arrangement with Morocco would enable Nigeria to produce one million metric tonnes of fertilizer locally and break the ranks of the cartel in the fertilizer supply business.
Mr. Abubakar explained that under the agreement, the Moroccan government would subsidise the price of phosphate which was a major material for the production of fertilizer.
According to him, the same arrangement was also made with Notore and Nderama companies on the urea they were producing locally as well as limestone to ensure adequate and affordable supply of fertiliser to farmers.
The governor said the arrangement would enable the commodity to reach farmers at between N5,000 and N5,500 as against N8 000 to N10,000 that it is being sold now.
He said it was for the fear of this development that the cartels were attempting to smear his name in that he was involved in fertiliser fraud.
He described the petitioners as people who had been involved for decades in fertilizer scam and were not happy that Nigeria was planning to rehabilitate the moribund fertilizer blending plants in the country to break the monopoly of those hoarding and selling the commodity at exorbitant prices.
They are “people whose milling plants are not working and are afraid to be edged out of business. They are people hoarding and selling the commodity at high prices to the detriment of the Nigerian farmers”, he said.
He further alleged that the petitioners were agitated because some of them had brought fertilizer at high rate and could not dispose it.
“There is no single penny in the system, it is an open business. Contract has been given for the supply of limestone, everybody knows the price of limestone. They can check, including the transportation, it is an open plan book”.
“Everybody that is involved in this issue is happy, except those people that always make extra money and are in the fertilizer cartel. They are afraid if one million tonnes of chemical fertilizer is produced, it can break their cartel”, he stated.