The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has reacted to the controversy trailing the Federal Government’s planned securement of $500 million loan from China.
The House of Representatives had raised an alarm over clauses in Article 8 (1) of the Commercial Loan Agreement signed between Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China.
In the said agreement, Nigeria stands to concede her sovereignty to China should there be a default in the repayment of the $400million for the Nigerian National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone phase 2 project signed in 2018.
The controversial clause in the agreement signed by the Federal Ministry of Finance on behalf of Nigeria and Chinese bank on September 5, 2018 provides:
“The borrower hereby irrevocably provides waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration pursuit to Article 85 thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuit thereto except for the military asset and diplomatic asset.”
But Amaechi, who appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, explained that he told the National Assembly members not to probe the loan issue too much in order not to scare the lender.
“The reason why I said that is because we have already applied for $5.3billion to execute the rail from Ibadan to Kano. We are about applying for about $3billion to execute the rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
“Don’t forget the National Assembly approved that loan. It is unconstitutional and impeachable if you take a loan without the approval of the National Assembly. So the same National Assembly that approved the loan is now questioning the same loan and the terms of the loan having looked at it before.
“If I am the lender, I will be worried. If they get worried, they will say ‘No, we will not approve the remaining loans you have applied for,” he said.
Amaechi who described the loan as the cheapest so far, said the Chinese loan is a concessionary loans at 2.8 percent interest.
He explained that before meeting China, the Federal Government had already approached other countries who didn’t approve the request on the ground that they didn’t have money.