Buhari approves N24bn for NASENI modular irrigation scheme
President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved the sum of N24bn for a smart modular irrigation project by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).
Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, Professor Mohammed Haruna, disclosed this to State House Correspondents shortly after meeting with the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
Explaining the rationale for the project, Haruna noted that the modular irrigation scheme would amplify agricultural yield nationwide by enabling farmers to produce crops three times in a single year.
The Villa visit, he said, is to show Buhari the financial details of the agency’s operation.
According to Haruna, the President, who is the Executive Chairman of the agency, should receive updates on the daily running of the establishment and that his interest in NASENI’s state of accounts was not triggered by any suspicious activities.
He said, “It’s not for anything suspicious, but we have been asking for funding and more funding, then you want to know the status of what is happening so far. For example, I have said to you, the 1 per cent of the Federation Account due to NASENI, we receive only the federal government component of it, instead of 1 per cent before it’s shared to the states and others that benefit from this
“Last week, the President approved N24bn for a smart irrigation system, on request by NASENI. So, it is his thought that if our money is remitted, why ask for further funding? Just to clarify the situation, not because of any other things, to know the status. And, of course, to give him exactly, as the Chairman of the Board NASENI, he should know to the last Kobo, what do we have, what don’t we have, to guide his decisions on matters.”
He noted that the funding approval would be channeled to the modular irrigation system.
The NASENI Chief also revealed that the agency has acquired 10-hectare farmland on lease in Adamawa State and will use water from River Benue, where the pilot scheme will kick off in October.
This, he said, would ensure that crops can be planted and harvested thrice in one calendar year.
“It is estimated that, based on the technologies to be used there, it is possible to have three multi-crop seasons in a year, commencing from October this year, God willing.
“The monies are for the pumps, the structure, the farming techniques, the farmers, the officers, the offices that are needed, the vehicles, and the administrative management, up to the period that we will have this demonstration farm, using modular irrigation system first model.
“First model in the sense that this one we’re drawing water from River Benue, of course, solar-powered,” he said.
He also disclosed that the statutory 1 per cent of the Federation Account meant to be drawn for its day-to-day operations is dedicated to the execution of some priority projects that had been approved by the government.
“The application of these funds is in some priority projects approved by the government. The capital components include payment of 15 per cent of the local counterpart funding for three key projects in the Power sector; the development and production of solar cells locally; development and production of electric power transformers and the third one is high voltage testing laboratory.
“Now, these are projects with 85 per cent funding support from China, which is part of what is approved and being implemented in the 2021/2022 Borrowing Plan. That is number one and in that, out of the $48,879,103, representing 15 per cent of what Nigeria is paying as the 15 per cent counterpart funding based on the money remitted to NASENI in the first and third quarters. $23,928,063 had been remitted in these two quarters.
“The other areas of application of this fund include the development and domestications of technologies NASENI has acquired from a partnering organization in Italy, de Lorenzo, in the production of technical science laboratory equipment for primary school, secondary school and tertiary institutions,” he explained.