The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has said that he didn’t know about the sovereignty clause in the Chinese loan agreement until recently, stressing that though nothing is wrong with the clause.
The minister who spoke to journalists on Wednesday at Idu train station in Abuja during a COVID-19 protocol compliance and inspection, said the implication of the clause is that if Nigeria defaults on loans repayment, China has right to take over those assets and run them until it recovers its money.
The House of Representatives in their probe of Chinese loans to Nigeria found that the agreements ceded Nigeria’s sovereign right on the assets financed by the loans to China if there was payment default.
But Amaechi said: “I am appearing before the House of Representatives again on the 17th of August.
“I just got to know that there is a clause in the agreement but it’s simple. You can’t take away the sovereignty of Nigeria but the implication is that if at the end of the day, you don’t pay the loan, the Chinese will take whatever they want without the nation talking about sovereignty.
“But what the Chinese normally do is that they go after the same asset to recover their money. So what is wrong with that? You are asking for $5.3bn. Just give that sovereignty. Now for me, the National Assembly in its wisdom thinks that is wrong, then they should tell us how to get the money to build these infrastructures. The loan to construct Ibadan to Kano rail is $5.3bn, and is being planned,”.
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He said there was nothing wrong with the investigation but that it should not jeopardise the government’s means of raising capital for long-term infrastructure development.
On the Abuja-Kaduna rail service loan, Amaechi said the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has already opened an account where operating surpluses would be deposited monthly to raise money to start the $1.1bn loan repayment.
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