The federal government has denied reports that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was giving part of Nigeria’s sovereignty to China in service of the nation’s numerous loans.
The minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi stated this while reacting to allegations made by the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Agreements, Honourable Ossai Nicholas Ossai, that the federal government may have ceded Nigeria’s sovereignty to China in the event of a default in loan agreements signed with the country on Tuesday
Honourable Ossai 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 according to him indirectly “wills the sovereignty of Nigeria” in the $400 million loan for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project signed in 2018.
Countering the claim, the transportation minister said members of the National Assembly were aware of the $5.3billion loan and all the clauses currently under scrutiny by the transport committee, as the loan proposal was actually approved by them.
He clarified that the contentious clause simply gives China the right to take over the property that the loan was used to construct.
“I have told the House of Reps; the clause is a simple one. For example, the loan to construct Ibadan to Kano rail is $5.3billion. The implication is that if by the end of the day you don’t pay back our money, whatever we need to take from you, we will take from you.”
“But what the Chinese normally do is that they go after the same asset to recover their money. So what is wrong with that? You are asking for $5.3billion. The sovereignty you give to them is to allow them to take over a property in your country. It is not a personal thing but something of national interest.”
On the plans sought out to repay the loans, Amaechi said the ministry of Finance handles part of that aspect as the job of the ministry of Transportation was to implement government policies.
He stated that the federal government was not defaulting on the payment plans yet while urging successive administrations to continue with the payment plans.
“We have already opened an escrow account to pay in the money. The minister of Finance sent me the account details for the NRC to start paying in the money.
“So if we are making N100million and we are running with N90million we can start paying N20-30million monthly and before we know it, we can raise $1million that we can send to the minister of Finance to pay as our contribution. The idea is to open an escrow account, remove the running cost and the profit can go into the loan repayment”. He added.