The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has pleaded with the National Assembly to stop questioning the nation’s loan agreement with China.
This was disclosed in an interview on Channels TV on Saturday. According to the minister, questions from the lawmakers may deter China from extending credit to the country, especially the $5.3 billion required for the Ibadan-Kano railway project. He said:
“They are not investigating corruption in construction. We want the National Assembly to allow us to get the loan for Ibadan to Kano, which is about $5.3bn.”
$5.3 billion loan for the Ibadan-Kano railway
On the pending loan, the minister said, “If you are telling the man who lent you money you don’t like the way he lent you, he won’t lend you any further.
“For this one (Lagos-Ibadan rail project), we have $1.6bn for which we are contributing about $200 and $300 million. But don’t forget, they have not finished paying, they can stop at any time.”
The House of Representatives had raised an alarm about the nature of loans received from China which, it said, puts the country’s sovereignty into question in the case of a re-payment default.
In all, Amaechi insisted the loans, which are primarily spent on capital projects built by Chinese companies, will benefit the country.
— Channels Television (@channelstv) August 15, 2020
The Backstory: Last month, Nairametrics reported when Amaechi argued that the probe into Nigeria’s use of foreign loans to finance infrastructure projects could negatively affect how foreign lenders perceive the country. And by extension, this could affect infrastructure projects in Nigeria, should such lenders choose to withdraw their loan offers.
The Minister stated this at a hearing with the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreements in Abuja. He was invited to the hearing by the legislators to offer more clarity on the $500 million loans from China’s Export-Import Bank which Nigeria is seeking for railway construction and other projects.
While responding to the lawmakers, Amaechi asked that the probe be postponed until December after the loan must have been received. However, the House Committee made it clear that it can conduct probes/reviews on Nigeria’s bilateral loan agreements anytime.