Minister of Transportation, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the current government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not signing away Nigeria’s sovereignty via the foreign loans it has been taking, especially the ones from China, meant for the rail projects that are being done in parts the country.
In an apparent reaction to the alarm raised by the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 geeneral election, Atiku Abubakar on the danger in amassing foreign loans, Amaechi, in a statement, said that in taking loans: “there must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms. That doesn’t mean that you are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.”
The minister, who said that the loan from China is scheduled to be paid back over the next 20 years, stressed that China is the only country giving out loans with a low-interest rate of 2.8 per cent, adding that no country in the world gives out a loan without a guarantee to pay back such loans.
“The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the ministry of transportation does not take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so, I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.
“What I signed is what is called commercial contract, which is contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the ministry of finance.
“Whether it is the ministry of finance that signed it or the ministry of transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you loan free of charge.
“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay according to those terms we have agreed. If you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me when I come to collect back the guarantee that was put forward, that is all.”
Amaechi said that it would be unconstitutional to take a loan not approved by the National Assembly but for the issue of confidentiality in government, he would have published the clauses generating dust.
“The National Assembly is aware of all these loans, we can’t take loan without the National Assembly, so ask why they are investigating? The Chinese are just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets.
“The payment plan is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance, ours is to implement the contract. They are meeting the requirements, at any point in time that we need to pay, we’ll pay.
“$1.6bn was taken to fix Lagos to Ibadan, we are asking for $5.3bn to fix from Ibadan to Kano, $3.2bn to fix Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about $11.1bn, if those things were done when we had money, will we be here today? The answer is no.”