On the 17th of October 2019 the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Professor Yemi Osinbajo tweeted from his Twitter handle about a farm he had visited. According to the Vice President the farm was started by Reston Tedheke with a loan of 1.5m naira and today the farm is worth 1bn naira. The tweet created buzz amongst citizens. It was the kind of story you expect to hear from a scammer trying to part you with your money and not from the handle of the Vice President. How can a farm that was started in 2017 with a loan of 1.5m naira suddenly become a farm with a worth of 1bn naira? Out of shock, I tweeted a reply to the Vice President’s tweet and asked if the farm was planting coca leaves from which cocaine is made? That was the only explanation I could think of that could lead to such astronomical growth. Or perhaps did they find the fabled goose that laid the golden egg or even the magical beans that grew into the sky to the land of the giants. It was such a ludicrous claim that it would have been comical if not for the enormity of the claim.
A day after my tweet Tedheke came to clarify the issue and let me know how he grew his farm. In 2017 he did an audio in defense of President Muhammadu Buhari and the aide to the President on Social Media Lauretta Onochie reached out to him and it led to a meeting in Abuja and that meeting was the catalyst for the birth of the farm. He then borrowed 1.5m naira to start the farm which he repaid in three months and in their first year the farm had a yield of three thousand tons of maize planted.
He further explained that the Vice President had undervalued them as the farm was worth more than the 1bn naira the Vice President had mentioned. Tedheke explained the different things they had done and also the future plans that they had. Finally he talked about a loan they applied for in 2018 called the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) one of the central bank schemes to help farmers. According to Tedheke they applied for 1.5bn naira loan which was scaled down to 1bn and finally 720m naira. He ended his explanations with a challenge for me to visit the farm and confirm for myself if the Vice President was correct in his statement.
What manner of a Nation are we that we flaunt our lack of values and integrity so blatantly. How can the Vice President come out to tell us that a farm that was started in 2017 with a loan of 1.5m naira was now worth 1bn? Did it not sound strange to him? Is that not something that should have warranted an investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission? For the Vice President to be the one touting such message most especially with the hit, the image of Nigerian has gotten from the recent arrest of many of its citizens involved in different fraudulent acts is disgusting to say the least.
Mr Tedheke claimed that they planted only maize in 2017 and that the yield they had was 3000 tons. This is the equivalent of sixty thousand bags. Is it the 1.5m naira loan used to get this? As for the loan, where did Tedheke get the collateral for such a huge sum? With all the numerous debts bedevilling Nigeria and the many grants given to businesses that have failed repeatedly how come such amount was given to one farm that just started and had not proved its worth. Was it the Vice President or the President that stood as collateral? Did they make a phone call on his behalf? Tedheke claimed to have crowdfunded for the farm and also in the process of raising millions of dollars for the farm. A lot of businesses with proven credibility and collateral are denied these single digits loans while companies with no known credibility get approved for them huge sums of money.
What is even more appalling is the fact that the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme is not open to Start Ups( businesses that are less than two business cycle) yet the farm of Tedheke was considered for 720m naira. For how long will we as a Nation continue to allow pseudo businesses that thrive based on their closeness to the seat of government? For how long will government continue to favour some because they defend or praise their incompetent, clueless and inept ways? For how long? These are questions for the Vice President of the federal Republic of Nigeria to answer and we are patiently waiting for his response.