CBN Is Recovering N50bn COVID-19 Loans Sparks Controversy

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has launched a campaign to recover N50 billion in COVID-19 loans, leaving some beneficiaries surprised and discontent.

In a recent development that has taken the financial sector by storm, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has embarked on a massive campaign to recover an estimated N50 billion disbursed as COVID-19 loans under the Targeted Credit Facilities (TCF) initiative.

Launched in 2020, this initiative sought to cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic.

This sudden movement towards loan recovery has left many beneficiaries in a state of disbelief, with numerous complaints regarding unexpected deductions from their bank accounts mushrooming across the country.

Unanticipated Repercussions for the Beneficiaries

The Tale of Fatimah Alli
One of the recipients, Fatimah Alli, narrated her unsettling experience.

Initially, when she acquired a loan of N500,000 in 2020, it was indicated that repayment would not be necessary.

To her dismay, she recently found out that the CBN had cleared her bank account in a bid to recover the loan amount.

Abbas Sule’s Ordeal
Similar to Fatimah, Abbas Sule experienced an unauthorized deduction by the CBN from his account.

Abbas recounted the additional N50,000 he had to pay a NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB) official to secure the N500,000 loan.

This left him with only N450,000. Abbas has voiced his concerns over the full loan amount being sought by the CBN, which seems unjust given the circumstances.

NIRSAL’s Stance on Loan Recovery

NIRSAL Microfinance Bank, the institution facilitating the loan distribution, is vehemently pursuing the recovery of loans distributed nationwide.

During the pandemic, the CBN had released roughly N50 billion to support individuals and businesses grappling with the economic consequences.

Initially, a lenient interest rate of five percent was applied, which lasted until February 28, 2021.

Post this period, the interest rate witnessed a hike to nine percent, effective from March 1, 2021.

NIRSAL is urging beneficiaries to commence repayments to ensure a steady flow of funds in the loan accounts.

President Tinubu’s Guidelines for Loan Recovery

Deadline for Recovery
In a connected development, President Bola Tinubu ordered security forces to intensify efforts to recover loans extended under the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme during Godwin Emefiele’s tenure as the CBN governor.

Security agencies have until September 18, 2023, to reclaim the N1.1 trillion pending under this program.

Current Repayment Status
At present, the CBN has managed to recuperate just over N500 billion from agricultural entrepreneurs, leaving more than half of the loan amount still pending.

Collaborative Endeavors of CBN and NMfB in Loan Recovery

The CBN, in alliance with the NMfB, is vigorously analyzing debtor accounts in a bid to reclaim loans offered under the TCF and the Agric, Small Medium Enterprises Scheme (AGSMEIS).

This concerted initiative is reflected in the numerous debit alerts received by Nigerians, especially those whose accounts are linked with their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN).

This strategy manifests the dedication of both the CBN and NMfB to recover loans from defaulting beneficiaries.

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