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House of Reps allege govt officials sign empty pages of loan agreement

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NICHOLAS Ossai, member, federal house of representatives and chairman of the house committee on treaties, protocols and agreements recently submitted that some government officials are signing empty pages of loan agreement.

He stated that such contracts lack local content clauses.

Ossai made the allegation while speaking at the investigative hearing on external loans and commercial agreements in Abuja on Monday, Cable reports.

According to Ossai, government agencies sign commercial agreements worth billions of dollars before going to the federal executive council for approval to execute them.

“This approach is the reason we have government representatives signing empty pages of loan agreements repayment schedule and other key documents required for the loan agreements to become effective.

“We have commercial contracts signed in US dollars, while the loan agreements for the execution of the same contracts were signed in Chinese yuan currency in the ministry of communications and digital economy/Galaxy Backbone Limited.

“Most of these commercial contract agreements didn’t also have local content clauses and were witnessed by non-properly designated and authorised officials.” he said.

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The honourable member further stated that there issues regarding procurement process and evidence of drawdown process and remittances. He disclosed that there are also plans to initiate renegotiation with some of the agreements.

In citing examples, Ossai also said that some commercial contracts to the tune of $33 billion were signed by the Ministry of transportation.

“We have noticed from documents available to us that commercial contracts prices signed by the federal ministry of transport alone is over $33 billion without any clear cut financing arrangements,” he said.

“Most of these commercial contract agreements didn’t also have local content clauses and more witnessed by non properly designated and authorized officials,” he said.

However, Rotimi Amaechi, the transport minister, said it was false, while speaking at the hearing.

“Mr Chairman I have the right to speak, you invited me, I was once a member of the house. if you say the ministry of transport has a contract $33 billion we want to see it because as the minister of transport the only contract awarded so far is 1.6 billion dollars contract for Lagos Ibadan which is under threat,” he said.

“Mr Chairman the implication of having a contract of $33 billion is that I will have a large number of workers. There are no $33 billion contracts in the ministry of transport. What we have is $1.6 billion contracts awarded under President Buhari and $800 million contracts awarded by Goodluck Jonathan.

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“By the time we came, the contract awarded by Jonathan signed by Aganga has been completed 80 percent so we didn’t have to do the meeting of local content or no local content. The only one that has to deal with the issue of local content is the $1.6 billion contract that was awarded for Lagos to Ibadan.

“For which the Chinese government is providing $1.2 billion and we’re providing the remaining $400 million. There are over 20 thousand workers and only 560 of them are Chinese, we need to begin to say the truth. It’s good to tell Nigerians the truth, this very political and we will show all the contracts awarded by the PDP government, Amaechi said.

Meanwhile, the transport minister once disclosed that the Nigerian government has applied for a $5.3 billion loan and also in the process of applying for another N3 billion loan from the Chinese Government.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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