Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi has said he is ashamed that some people cannot understand that the ‘waiver of sovereignty’ clause in the loan agreement between Nigeria and China is just a term of the contract, a sovereign guarantee that guarantees repayment in accordance with the terms and conditions of any loan.
Amaechi made the clarification by answering questions about the loan controversy on a television show over the weekend.
He also explained that the Ministry of Transportation is not responsible for taking loans, but for implementing the project or contract for which the loans were taken.
According to Amaechi, “it is a commercial agreement; A trade agreement between Nigeria and China. The first problem is that the Ministry of Transport does not take loans. Anything about loan, talk to the Ministry of Finance.
“What I signed is what they call a commercial contract; That is a contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor.
“The contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the finance ministry on behalf of Nigeria, but that will escape the problem.
“Whether it’s been signed by the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Transportation, the problems are the problems.
“There is no contract without an agreement and that agreement must contain some terms and one of the terms that this contains is not that you are giving up the sovereignty of the country.”
“No country will give up its sovereignty. What you do is give a sovereign guarantee; and I am ashamed of those who misinterpret it.
“Now, when you say ‘I give you a sovereign guarantee and I renounce that immunity clause’, the immunity clause is that if tomorrow I cannot pay you and you come to pick up the articles that we have agreed upon (that these are articles that I have put as guarantee ), I can use my immunity and say no, they cannot touch our assets, we are a sovereign country.
“Is China our father who will give us free money? They (the Chinese) say: if you can’t pay, don’t stop us from getting back the items that will help us get our funds back.
“And it’s a standard clause, either with the United States that signed it or with Great Britain or any country, because they want to know that they can get their money back.”
“What the clause does is tell you that I expect you to pay according to those terms and conditions. If you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity against me (the lender) when it comes to collect the collateral that you presented, that’s all.
“Waiving immunity simply means, in commercial terms, that I will not be giving you this free loan.
“Just like if you take a loan from the bank, the moment you don’t pay, they go after the assets you left behind. And people are politicizing it. The Chinese can never come and take over Aso rock and become president or Minister.
“In the event of default, Amaechi stated that the lender can only pursue and recover the same assets built with the borrowed funds.
“And if the assets you deposit depreciate, then negotiate which assets they can pursue. The Chinese will never take over what was not built with the loan. “
Zambia’s fear of fate
Relieving fear that some Nigerians are asking if the loan can be repaid and not enter the same situation as Zambia, Amaechi stated that the loan was already being paid.
“But we are paying,” he said. “At the same session of the National Assembly committee, they were told that of the $ 500 million, we have already paid $ 96 million.
“Nigeria is already paying. So it is not that Nigeria does not have the ability to pay. We will refund your money. At 2.8 percent, what other country would give you that loan? 2.8 percent for 20 years with a seven-year moratorium; Why can’t you pay?
“The payment plan has not been made by us, it has been done by the finance ministry, but they are fulfilling the requirements. Anytime we have to pay, we pay. “
The Minister further explained that the loans are neither paid to him nor to the Ministry, which automatically eliminates any fear of corruption or diversion of funds. They are paid directly to the contractor in China.
Amaechi also reiterated his call to the National Assembly to suspend the investigation, as some loans are still awaited for the completion of Lagos to Ibadan and the construction of Ibadan to Kano and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail.