Nigeria’s Sovereignty Not For Chinese Loans
By Saliu Bashiru
There is no gain saying that Nigeria as a country lacks infrastructural development, and without this, we can not develop and compete with the rest of the world.
According to research by Mckinsey, Nigeria will need to invest over $31 billion annually for a period of ten years if the infrastructural gap has to be adequately bridged.
Therefore, Public Private Partnership (PPP) must be strongly encouraged.
In 2010, Nigeria signed a loan deal of about $500 million with Chinese government to prosecute some of our long term infrastructural projects. So far, $96 million has been disbursed to Nigerian government.
It is however worrisome that among the terms of agreement, there is a waiver of sovereignty if Nigeria default in the repayment plan. The Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi recently shed more light on this when he appeared before a House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Protocol.
But Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Ossai Ossai, was of the opinion that some of the clauses in the agreement were not known to them, and warned the Federal Government from okaying the agreement.
He said FG needs to know all the clauses involved so as to make an informed decision on obtaining it. He reiterated that ‘they became aware of the clause not quite long.
Ossai said proper care needs to be taken so that the country does not end up enslaving its generation yet unborn.
Upon that premise, they asked Amaechi, together with his counterpart from the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, to appear before the House for proper briefing and more engaging session.
But while clarifying further, Amaechi said that what it means by sovereignty waiver is that, should we default in the repayment agreement, the Chinese will take charge of the project upon which the money was borrowed, and run it until they recover the cumulative amount expended on the same project.
One may wish to ask: Do we have the strength to conveniently repay the $1.1 billion as stated in the agreement? Is it true that the Senate has the information of the default clause? If yes, why is the Reps not aware?
Was that the only clause or we have more of them which ought to be looked into? Again, Why does the Chinese Government think we will default, as such they will swiftly take over the project until their money is recovered?
Well, may be the original plan is to make sure we are unable to repay or we default so that ‘Plan B’ will be activated. The technicalities involved in this project require holistic deliberation.
Taking charge of our projects until their money is recouped is not a serious problem, but how sure are we that the agreement is not even laced with ulterior motive, and that the solution they are planning to make will not be more worse than the original problem?
Thus, our government representatives while signing this type of agreement are required to take all precautionary measure through involvement of all experts before finalizing such a huge deal.
Lastly, If the Chinese loan is more of investments based and not a ‘Greek gift’, it should not be tied to our national sovereignty.