House of Reps summon ministers over Chinese loans
NEWSMAN, Abuja – Nigeria’s House of Representatives is calling for more answers on another $500million loan to be sourced from the Export-Import Bank of China for development of railway infrastructures in the country.
The House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, which is investigating Nigeria’s foreign loans had on July 28 raised the alarm that the agreement signed with China might force Nigeria to cede its sovereignty to the Asian country.
But the Minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi insisted that the lawmakers should quit the probe, arguing that Nigeria’s sovereignty was not at risk in the country’s loan agreements with China, as recently claimed by the National Assembly.
“You know, I specifically urged the National Assembly to please be careful about this probe on the loan agreements. It is because we are trying to make an application for the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri rail, and we are about to go to cabinet for approval, you are now shouting these terms are bad, Chinese people are wicked” Amaechi said on national television.
“How will they give you the money? I have documents to the effect that we are getting signals that they are becoming a bit apprehensive on whether we are doing this because we don’t want to pay them back.
“The misconception was that the National Assembly was looking at the diplomatic immunity as against the commercial immunity of a country that had to do with loans”, Amaechi explained further.
The Transport Minister added that the probe by the National Assembly had made some Chinese to think that Nigeria was probing the loan agreements in order not to repay the about $2bn so far collected from China.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers have summoned those involved in the loan chain including the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Ameachi; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.
Also summoned by the lawmakers is the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman; and the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, over external borrowings made by Nigeria, especially from China.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has been asked to appear before the committee again on August 17.