The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has hit back at federal lawmakers, wondering why the House of Representatives would turn around to accuse the Federal Government of signing out Nigeria sovereignty in a loan agreement with China after approving the request by the government.
He stated this when he appeared on an NTA programme alongside the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The House of Representatives had said last week it discovered contentious clauses in the commercial loan agreement between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Treaties and Agreements, Ossai Nicholas, who disclosed this at the plenary, said the clauses conceded Nigeria’s sovereignty to China in the $400 million loan for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project, signed in 2018.
In its response to the controversy generated by the matter, the Chinese government on Tuesday denied claims that it is taking over Nigeria’s sovereignty in respect of the clause in the $500 million loan agreement with the country.
The Chinese foreign ministry said the government had no such plan even if there was a default in the repayment of the loans.
And Amaechi and Malami insisted that Nigeria’s sovereignty was not traded-off in the federal government’s agreement with China as claimed by the lawmakers. They added that what Nigeria provided in the agreement was a commercial guarantee which was an international best practice.
He said: “A sovereign nation is a sovereign nation, nobody can re-colonise us. We must learn to pay our debts and we are paying, and once you are paying, nobody will come and take any of your assets.”
“If the National Assembly said we have signed out the sovereignty of our country, so why did they approve the loan? Didn’t they see it before approving?”
In his contributions, the AGF said there is a difference between international diplomatic immunity, independent existence, and commercial immunity.
He said: “There is a difference between international diplomatic immunity which has to do with a nation’s sovereignty, independent existence and commercial immunity which has to do with a commitment to ensure repayment of loans.”