•Minister, others appear before Reps panel today
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Federal Government would require about $5.3 billion loan from China to fund the Ibadan-Kano standard gauge rail project.
Amaechi disclosed this over the weekend after inspecting the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, saying the Ibadan-Kano rail project would take-off once the loan was received.
“We are waiting for approval of the loan. But you will see skeletal activities even before the loan comes. We have not got the loan, but for the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, there is enough money and we have no problem with this project. When we asked the National Assembly to stop the investigation into loans collected for the rail project, it didn’t mean there is no money to complete the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, but what we meant is that they should please allow us to get $5.3 billion loan for the Ibadan – Kano rail project before they start investigating loans. For the Lagos-Ibadan rail, we have a loan of $1.6 billion and Nigeria is contributing between $200 million and $300 million. If your lender knows that your people are complaining that they don’t like the way he lent you loan, he won’t lent you any new loan. Don’t forget, the Chinese have not completed the payment to Nigeria so, they could stop at any time,” he said.
The minister is scheduled to appear before the House of Representatives on Treaties, Agreements and Protocol, over the $400 million loan from China.
Amaechi is expected to appear alongside the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the Director General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Patience Oniha.
Chairman of the committee, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, who confirmed this, yesterday, said the lawmakers are looking forward to meeting with the ministers and others to get clarification on the loan.
“We started the last investigation last month but they could not provide the required answers so we shifted till August 17 to enable them furnish us with all the documents. So, we are expecting him,” Ossai stated.
The lawmaker explained that the committee was not doing anything extra-ordinary, stating that the committee was only discharging its oversight functions.
Daily Sun gathered that the ministers are expected to furnish the committee with the details of the agreement between the Ministry of Transport and ZTE (Nig) Ltd in respect of the provision of community actions and signalling equipment for the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri line.
Also, they are to make available to the committee the agreement between the Ministry of Transport and the China Railway Construction Company International (CRCCI), as it concerns the Itakpe-Abuja line/New Port in Warri project.
The lawmakers at an investigative hearing on July 28, had raised concerns over some clauses in the $400 million loan agreement, which allegedly waived Nigeria’s sovereignty to China in case the country defaults in the repayment plan.
Ossai had pointed out that clause 8 (1) of the $400 loan agreement signed by Ministry of Finance (borrower) on behalf of the country and the Export-Import Bank of China (lender) on September 5, 2018, stipulates that: “The borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic
The Transport minister, who was present at the investigative hearing, had appealed to the committee to discontinue the probe of the proposed, for now, so as not to give the Chinese government the impression that the legislature was not in support of the country obtaining the loan.