The House of Representatives on Tuesday raised the alarm over lethal clauses in Article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China, which allegedly waives “the sovereignty of Nigeria” in the $400 million loans for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project signed in 2018.
Speaking on the loan issue, Amaechi disclosed that the sum of $500 million was the loan component borrowed from China while the balance of $349 million is the counterpart funding from Nigeria. He urged the committee to defer the investigative hearing till December, to enable Nigeria to conclude the process of the loan, adding that: “I have said here to the House, and it is a pity that I’m saying it in public.
These governments outside Nigeria, they are sensitive to what you say. Nobody is stopping you from your investigation and no government from outside Nigeria can stop you from doing it. “We are saying that if Nigeria has applied for three loans already. For Port Harcourt-Maiduguri (Eastern Rail Line), the Minister of Finance told me that she was stopped and told that the next borrowing plan would not be approved unless you get Port Harcourt-Maiduguri. Port HarcourtMaiduguri goes through the South-East and the North-East.
The only South-South town is Port Harcourt. “We are about to apply for a loan. They will not grant that loan. Then you summoned us back to the House to ask why we are constructing Lagos-Kano and we are not constructing Port Harcourt-Maiduguri.
Can we be allowed to get this loan first and then you can summon us? While reiterating his position on the need to step down the investigation pending the conclusion of the processes, the minister said: “My fear is that at the end of the day, some sections of this country will suffer if they stop giving us loans. The La-Reps uncover clauses ceding Nigeria’s sovereignty to China Lagos-Ibadan (rail line), we have not finished disbursement.
We are asking for a loan to commence work from Ibadan to Kano. The day they (China) say ‘the government is not supporting the loans you people are taking, we are no longer giving you,’ that is the end of the project.” Speaking earlier on the details of the parameters of the loan, Director (Legal) of Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr Gabriel Christopher had explained that the concession interest rate was 2.5 per cent.
One of the lawmakers who frowned on the development said: “This committee is not and will not put an end to the projects ongoing. It should be on the record. It is not the intention of this committee to stop any project that is ongoing.
This committee represents the Nigerian people and the Nigerian people have questions, and we will ask those questions to get answers for them.” He then directed the ministers and other stakeholders to appear before the committee on August 17.