• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Senate: Umahi leads fresh probe into DBN N483bn MSME loan

The Senate has constituted a seven-man panel chaired by David Umahi, a former governor of Ebony State, to launch a fresh investigation into an alleged ‘uneven’ disbursement of N483 billion loan to the Medium and Small-Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) in the six geo-political zones by the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) in 2021.

The other members of the ad-hoc committee are Babangida Oseni, Ali Ndume, Banigo Ipalibo, Sani Musa, Chizoba Chukwu, and Adetokunbo Abiru. The committee is to carry out a holistic investigation into the loan disbursement by DBN and report back to plenary in four weeks.

The resolution followed a motion moved by Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) and co- sponsored by 64 other lawmakers during Wednesday’s plenary that the 9th Senate had set up an ad-hoc panel to investigate the claim that the Southwest, especially Lagos State, had the largest number of the loan beneficiaries of about 47 percent of the entire loan.

The DBN officials then told the panel that they adhered strictly to the criteria set up by their regulators and not geopolitical considerations in given out loans.

Ndume, who was visibly dissatisfied with the outcome of the last investigation and the committee’s recommendations, said there was the need for the Senate to look at the issue critically again owing to the huge disparity in the loan disbursement.

He said the bank’s annual integrated statutory report 2021 showed that it disbursed a loan worth N483 billion in 2021, saying, out of the N483 billion, only 11 percent went to the 19 northern states totaling N53 billion while Lagos alone got 47 percent, which amounts to N227 billion.

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According to him, the breakdown of the loan disbursement of the bank’s report, showed that Southwest got the lion share with 57 percent of the total loan, estimated to be N274.7 billion while South-south accessed 17 per cent (81.9 billion); North central and FCT, 11 per cent (53 billion); Southeast, nine percent (43.3 billion); Northwest, five percent (24 billion) and Northeast, a paltry one per cent (4.8 billion).

Ndume noted that the five sectors considered for the loan were oil and gas (42%), manufacturing (16%), agriculture, forestry and fishery (7.2%), trade and commerce (6.3%), and transportation and storage (3.5%).

“The DBN existed to alleviate financing constraints being faced by MSMEs in Nigeria through providing finance, partial credit guarantees and technical assistance to eligible financial intermediaries on a market-conforming and fully financially sustainable basis” he said.

In their contributions to the motion, some of the senators who were in the 9th Senate when the first panel probed the same issue, agreed that the Senate should again investigate the loan disbursement with a view to addressing its disparity and review the criteria for accessing the loan to ensure geographical spread.

In his opinion, Jibrin Isah (APC, Kogi) informed that since the DBN was not wholly owned by the Nigerian government, it could not unilaterally review the criteria, pointing out that the international lenders like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) that have shares in the bank collectively set the criteria, which was necessary to protect their investments.

Isah urged Nigerian enterprises who could not meet the criteria for the DBN loan to approach Nigerian intervention banks like Bank of Industry and Bank of Agriculture for loan.