Amaechi lobbies National Assembly to stop probe of $500m Chinese loan, says it will hamper rail projects
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ROTIMI Amaechi, the Minister Of Transportation, has pleaded with the National Assembly halt its probe of the $500 million loan agreements from the Chinese government for the Abuja-Kaduna railway and others.
Speaking during an investigative hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Protocols, Amaechi said such move would hamper the rail projects for which the loan was being solicited for.
According to him, the loan is meant for the completion of the Federal Government’s rail projects, cauting the lawmakers against sending a wrong signal to China.
“The investigation being carried out by the National Assembly may frustrate the loan agreement between us and China on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project,” NAN quoted Amaechi as said.
“So, if tomorrow we are unable to construct Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway because we didn’t get the loan, it is because of the investigation by NASS.”
“I told the National Assembly that they can investigate but they should allow us get the loan first. If they stop the work from Ibadan to Kano, it is because of the investigations, same with Lagos to Calabar railway,” Amaechi added.
Amaechi argued that the probe may suggest to the Chinese Government that that there was disagreement between the Federal Government and the National Assembly, warning that such may cause the Chinese Government to withdraw it.
The minister however advised the House to investigate for corruption, instead of probing the loan for the rail projects across the country which he described as being in the national interest.
“If you think there is corruption, investigate corruption. What we are saying is that we should conclude negotiation first because there is pressure affecting the Chinese government in which they are talking to us directly. So, for me, what is primary here should be national interest,” he said.
The ICIR had earlier reported that the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements had raised alarm that Nigerian government ministries are signing off the country’s sovereignty in Chinese loan agreements.
The Committee stated this while Amaechi made a presentation on the $500 million Chinese loan for the Abuja-Kaduna railway and others.
Nicholas Ossai, the Chairman of the Committee, cited a part of the Galaxy Backbone $400 million loan to build and operate the National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone as one of such agreements.