The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Wednesday, warned the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Agreements against continuing the probe on loan agreement between Nigeria and China.
The House of Representatives had said on Tuesday it discovered contentious clauses in the commercial loan agreement between Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China.
The Chairman of the Committee, Ossai Nicholas, who disclosed this at the plenary, said the clauses concede Nigeria’s sovereignty to China in the $400 million loans for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project, signed in 2018.
Amaechi, who appeared before the committee to defend the Federal Government’s request to borrow $500 million from the Chinese government to finance some rail projects across the country, asked the lawmakers to suspend the probe till the loan is secured.
The minister added that some sections of the country would suffer if China refuses to give Nigeria a loan to complete ongoing projects.
He said: “I have said here to the House, and it is a pity that I’m saying it in public, this government, outside Nigeria, they are sensitive to what you say. Nobody is stopping you from your investigation and no government from outside Nigeria can stop you from doing it.
“We are saying that Nigeria has applied for three loans already. For Port Harcourt-Maiduguri (eastern rail line), the minister of finance told me that she was stopped and told that the next borrowing plan would not be approved unless you get Port Harcourt-Maiduguri. Port Harcourt-Maiduguri goes through the south-east and the north-east.
“The only south-south town is Port Harcourt. We are about to apply for a loan. They will not grant that loan. Then you summoned us back to the House to ask why we are constructing Lagos-Kano and we are not constructing Port Harcourt-Maiduguri.
“Can we be allowed to get this loan? Then you can summon us, not to start what you are doing and the whole process will then be stopped.
“My fear is that at the end of the day, some sections of this country will suffer if they stop giving us loans; two projects that will suffer: the first one is Lagos-Ibadan (rail line), we have not finished disbursement.
“We are asking for a loan to commence work from Ibadan to Kano. The day they (China) say ‘the government is not supporting the loans you people are taking, we are no longer giving you,’ that is the end of the project.
“The economy of this country can only be propelled by transportation. We don’t mind this investigation but can we please shift it to December or January when we would have possibly taken these loans.
“Once we get these loans, chairman, turn me upside down, I will answer you. There are rumblings up there in China and there are loans we have asked for.”