Amaechi takes FG’s case to court of public opinion
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi at the weekend took the issue of the China loan to the court of public opinion.
Amaechi who appeared on an AIT programme, Democracy Today, said that although his ministry was responsible for the execution of ongoing rail projects, he has has no hand in how loans under the Nigeria – China Agreement are procured.
“The Ministry of Transport doesn’t take loan”, the former Governor of Rivers State remarked, “everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.”
The National Assembly is investigating the issue of a $500 million loan acquired for the execution of rail projects. But there are fears in some circles that the Chinese authorities may renege on the approval of more loans which may likely benefit the development of the rail sector in the South South and South East geopolitical regions.
There is a growing feeling in the South South that there were no issues pertaining to the nature of loans from China when work went on along the Lagos -Ibadan corridor and the northern parts of the country.
But since news of a loan which might develop rail infrastructure in the South South and the South East broke, subtle moves are being made to block its procurement.
Whereas the House of Representatives under Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila insists its motive is to ascertain how the China loan was framed, the House appears to be interested in the clause which pertains to Nigeria’s sovereign interests.
Speaking on AIT, Amaechi disclosed that China was the only country with low interest borrowing rate. He said the interest charged by China was 2.8%.
Amaechi was optimistic that Nigeria would be in a position to liquidate the debt incurred in 20 years.
Apparently reacting to sovereign interest concerns, which is the subject of the House investigation, Amaechi said no country could allow itself to lend money to others without having a guarantee that it could get its funds back when the repayment period matures.
The South South accounts for more than 90% of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings and many in the Niger Delta region are watching to see what will happen next.
Somehow, the revelation that Amaechi has no hand in the procurement of loans and the payment of all who are delivering on rail projects have come as a huge surprise.
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