How much loans have Nigeria taken from the Chinese government for the transport sector? The answer, according to the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, is $33 billion.
But for the Federal Ministry of Transport and its Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, it is $1.6 billion.
On Monday at a public hearing by the House in Abuja, both sides disagreed strongly over commercial contract figures signed by the Ministry.
The committee chairman, Rep. Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta) said that the ministry had signed commercial contracts worth 33 billion dollars without clear cut ﬁnancing arrangements.
Ossai explained that the House probe is to get clarifications on all the agreements, noting that Nigeria has over 500 loans and bilateral agreements with other governments and international organisations.
According to him, “we have noticed from documents available to us that commercial contracts prices signed by the Federal Ministry of Transport alone within this period is over $$33 billion without any clear cut ﬁnancing arrangements.
“Most of these commercial contracts agreements didn’t also have local content clauses and there were no witnesses and designated and authorised officials.
“There are observable issues relating to procurement process evidences of 15 per cent advanced payments, payment of management fees, draw down process and remittances and a whole lot of other matters.
“We are strongly poised to ask questions on and hope to get honest answers that will ﬁne tune the current process, plan for possible renegotiation of some these agreements in order to serve Nigerians better”.
Despite Amaechi’s appeal last week for an end to the probe of loans from China, Ossai pointed out that the National assembly “cannot continue to approve loans without asking relevant questions.’’
The Minister however held his ground saying that there was no such loan of $33 billion in the ministry.
According to him, the ministry had only signed a loan agreement of $1.6 dollars under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The Minister explained that the amount was being used for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, disclosing that the Chinese government provided $1.2 billion while the Federal Government provided the remaining 400 million dollars.
Amechi however admitted that another loan of $800 million dollars was taken under the Goodluck Jonathan administration and that the project was 80 per cent completed before he was appointed Minister.