Thursday, 06 August 2020 06:06

Don’t drag Jonathan into controversy on Chinese loans - Omokri replies Amaechi

Reno Omokri, a former aide of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, has cautioned Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, against dragging the former president into the controversy on the loans obtained by the federal government from China.

A house of representatives panel had recently raised the alarm over clauses conceding Nigeria’s sovereignty to China in a loan agreement.

The clause, described as “lethal” by the panel, is in article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China.

The section of the agreement has triggered controversy and strengthened claims about Nigeria’s reliance on Chinese loans.

While reacting to a call for his resignation by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amaechi had said some earlier loans from China were signed during Jonathan’s era.

“By the way, he said he is PDP; that loan was taken under President Goodluck Jonathan’s government. The loan he’s talking about — the Kaduna-Abuja railway — was signed by the President Goodluck Jonathan government,” the minister said.

“Don’t forget that we told the whole world when commissioning that project, that 80 percent of that project was executed by President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.

“The loan was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, and for that reason we had to name the train station and infrastructure in Agbor after President Goodluck Jonathan’s government for that laudable achievement.”

Reacting to the minister’s remark in a statement on Wednesday, Omokri said although Jonathan took loans from China, the former president did not sign away the country’s sovereignty.

Omokri said the loan agreement which included the controversial clause was signed between the federal ministry of finance and the Export-Import Bank of China in 2018.

“Rotimi Amaechi is as usual, being deceptive. It is his stock in trade. For the avoidance of doubt, it is true that the Jonathan administration also took loans from China. However, it is false that that government signed away Nigeria’s sovereignty to China while taking those loans,” the statement read.

“The loans which were suspected to have surrendered Nigeria’s sovereignty away were taken by the Buhari administration.

“The specific loan in question, which is suspected of signing away Nigeria’s sovereignty to China was signed on September 5, 2018, between the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Finance and the Export-Import Bank of China.

“It may be recalled that Nigeria’s total foreign debt on May 29, 2015, when then President Goodluck Jonathan handed over power to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, was ₦12 trillion, of which a total of $7.02 billion out of the ₦12 trillion was foreign debt.

“As at June 2020, Nigeria’s total debt was ₦28.63 trillion, of which a total of $22 billion out of the ₦28.63 trillion is foreign debt.

“Rotimi Amaechi is therefore counselled to defend himself and his government, without dragging past administrations into the matter.”

Meanwhile, Amaechi had clarified that the immunity referred to in the loan agreement does not relate to the country’s sovereignty as a nation but to Nigeria’s immunity from arbitration.

He said the clause is only a diplomatic agreement between both parties to ensure payment is made accordingly.   | src: TheCable

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