Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi says Nigerian government has the capability to pay back loans collected for the construction of rail projects within the stipulated period of 20 years.
Amaechi, in a statement on Saturday, said China was the only country giving out loans with a low interest rate of 2.8 per cent.
He said no country in the world would give out a loan without a guarantee to pay back such loans.
“The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the ministry of transportation does not take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so, I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.
“What I signed is what is called commercial contract, which is contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the ministry of finance.
“Whether is the ministry of finance that signed it or the ministry of transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you loan free of charge.
“There must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms, that doesn’t mean that you are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.
“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay according to those terms we have agreed, if you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me when I come to collect back the guarantee that was put forward, that is all.
“We are paying the loans. In the same National Assembly sitting, they were told that of the 500million dollars loan, we have paid 96 million dollars already, Nigeria is already paying.
“And the 500 million dollars was not taken by us, it was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term and that clause was there.
“Nigeria has the capacity to pay back for the period of 20 years at 2.8 per cent, which country will give you that loan? Secondly, these loans are not given to us, they are paid directly to the contractors.
“Once they sign that the job has been done, they pay the contractors and that has never happened before and this project are in place. Are they trying to rubbish the fact that there is a railway from Abuja-Kaduna?
“There is no loan in Nigeria, either internal or external that is not approved by the National Assembly, none.
The minister further said the government needed the loans to boost infrastructure in the country.
According to him, the sovereign guarantee and sovereign immunity clause raised by the NASS is a term used to ensure that loans collected are paid back.
The minister said in the case of a default, only the assets constructed with such a loan would be taken back.
He said: “What you do is you give a sovereign guarantee and that guarantee is the immunity clause they are talking about.
“When we say, I give you a sovereign guarantee and we get immunity clause, the immunity clause is that, if tomorrow I am not able to pay and you come to collect the items we have agreed upon, that these are the items that am putting down as guarantee, I can waive my immunity and say no you can’t touch it am sovereign country.
“So, they are saying, if you are not able to pay, don’t stop us from taking back those items that will make us recover our funds. So, is China our father that will give us money for free?
“It is a standard clause in every agreement whether is America we signed it with, whether is Britain, any country would want to know that they can recover their money.
“Anybody that is saying he doesn’t know what a sovereign guarantee or immunity is, too bad for the person, because it simply means in trade that I am not giving you this loan free of charge.
“Just like you go to the bank to collect a loan, the moment you don’t pay they go after your assets you put down, that is all about the clause, the Chinese can never come and take over Aso rock and become President or Minister.
” And if the assets you put down become depreciated then you negotiate which assets they can go after. Chinese will never take over what was not constructed with the loan.”
Amaechi noted that it would be unconstitutional to take a loan not approved by the NASS, but for confidentiality in government he would have published the clauses generating the dusts.
The minister while asking the reason for the investigation by the NASS added that they were aware of all the loans.
He said:” The Chinese is just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back, which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets.”
On the Zambia experience, where the country could not meet up with its loan agreement, the minister said that the Chinese government will never take over infrastructure that was not constructed from the money taken.
He also acknowledged that the finance ministry in a payment plan had started paying back some of the loans collected.
He said the payment plan was the responsibility of the ministry of finance, and the Ministry of transportation was supposed to implement the contract.
“They are meeting the requirements, at any point in time that we need to pay, we’ll pay. 1.6 billion dollars was taken to fix Lagos to Ibadan, we are asking for 5.3 billion dollars to fix from Ibadan to Kano.
“3.2 billion dollars to fix Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about 11.1billion dollars, if those things were done when we had money, the infrastructure will be here today? The answer is no,” Amaechi added.
The minister, however, called on the National Assembly and Nigerians to appreciate government effort in providing infrastructure in the country.
Amaechi noted that the Itakpe /Warri rail project in the South South, which was abandoned for thirty four years by successive governments was fully rehabilitated by the present administration without seeking for loan.
Edited By: Yakubu Uba/Felix Ajide (NAN)
Police nab 3 over alleged culpable homicide, 2 for kidnapping in Niger
The Police Command in Niger has arrested three suspects over alleged culpable homicide in Chanchaga Local Government Area of the state.
The police also announced the arrest 2 suspects over alleged kidnapping in Shiroro Local Government Area.
Abiodun, said that based on information received at about 10:30 hours on July 26, that two teenagers were found lying dead behind M.I Wushishi Housing Estate.
On receipt of the information, police detectives attached to Chanchaga division, swung into action and arrested three suspects in connection with the case, all of Kpapi village in Chanchaga, Minna.
“During interrogation, the suspects confessed to have conspired and fired a Dane gun at the deceased persons, who they claimed to have encroached and damaged their farmland through illegal mining.
“The suspects will be charge to court after investigation,” Abiodun said.
Similarly, the command has arrested two suspects over alleged kidnapping in Shiroro local government area of the state.
Abiodun said on July 28 at about 09:00 hours, information was received that unknown gunmen numbering about 14, invaded Nakudna village via Erena in Shiroro and kidnapped one Jambo Salihu of the same address to unknown destination.
On receipt of the information, Police detectives attached to Erena division swung into action and arrested two suspects, both of Nakudna and Kusasu villages in Shiroro local government area in connection with the case.
During interrogation, the suspects confessed to be indigenes of the community but conspired with their armed gang members now at large, and acted as pointers and informants to the bandits.
The victim was rescued unhurt while efforts to arrest the fleeing suspects was ongoing.
He said that the case was under investigation and the suspects would be charged to court after investigations.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
FG to resume Digital Switch Over roll out – Lai Mohammed
The Federal Government says it will “very soon’ resume the roll out of Digital Switch Over (DSO) – a transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting – across the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated this on Tuesday in Lagos at a ceremony to unveil the new amendment to the 6th Edition of the Broadcasting Code.
Fielding questions from stakeholders at the ceremony, the minister said the DSO suffered some set back which led to a hold after it was launched in six states.
He reiterated the commitment of the government to spread the massive benefits of digital television to the people, stressing that it was the fastest way to create jobs.
The minister assured the stakeholders that they would hear from the government on the resumption of the DSO roll out in the coming weeks.
Mohammed also told the stakeholders that government had been implementing policies and programmes to reposition the creative industry.
He said one of the major recommendations of the Post COVID-19 Initiative Committee on the Creative Industry chaired by ace comedian, Ali Baba was a restructure of the industry.
The minister reassured that the government would soon set up a committee on the implementation of the recommendations to move the industry forward.
The Minister also reiterated government’s commitment to assist the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria in securing the N10 billion Nigeria Media Intervention Fund from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
3 men in court over alleged stealing of phones worth N43,000
Three men, who allegedly stole cell phones worth N43,000 from a woman under cutlass-point, were, on Tuesday, brought before an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court, Lagos.
The defendants: Sodiq Alamin, 26; Ruya Yakubu, 23 and Yusuf Adamu, 22, all residents of Ilaje Ajah, are standing trial on a three-count charge of conspiracy, theft and armed robbery.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them by the police.
Earlier, the Prosecutor, Sgt. Chinedu Uwadiole, had told the court that the defendants committed the offences on July 7, at 8:30 pm. at Ilaje, Ajah, Lagos.
He said that the defendants threatened one Ms Shade Oyeleke with a cutlass and stole a Nokia phone, worth N3, 000 and one VTE phone, worth N40,000 from her.
According to Uwadiole, the offences contravene Sections 287, 297(2)(a) and 299 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
The Magistrate, Mrs O. S. Ominy, granted them bail in the sum of N500, 000 each, with two sureties each in like sum.
According to the magistrate, the sureties must be gainfully employed and show evidence of tax payments to the Lagos State government.
She, thereafter, adjourned the case till Sept. 16, for mention.
Edited By: Nick Nicholas and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
Toddler, 2 others die in Ogun lone accident
A toddler as well as a six-year-old girl and one other person were confirmed dead while six others sustained injuries in a lone accident on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Mr Babatunde Akinbiyi, the spokesperson of the Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE), confirmed the deaths to newsmen in Abeokuta on Tuesday.
He said the accident, which involved a Mazda bus marked FUF109ZD coming from Kwara inbound Lagos, happened around the Youth Camp on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
Akinbiyi, who said that the accident occurred at about 2:05pm, added that it was caused by a burst tyre which resulted in the bus summersaulting.
“Six persons comprising four females and two males got injured while a toddler, a six-year-old girl and another female died in the accident.
“We learnt that the commercial bus was coming from Kwara state inbound Lagos when it had a burst tyre due to excessive speeding with a female toddler losing her life immediately while a six- year -old girl and another female died later at Idera Hospital, Sagamu,” he said.
The TRACE spokesman said the injured victims were currently receiving treatment at Idera Hospital in Sagamu while the corpses would be taken to Fakoya private morgue in the community.
He commiserated with the family of the deceased while admonishing motorists to desist from over-inflating or under-inflating tyres.
Akinbiyi also cautioned drivers against excessive speeding, especially in diversion and construction zones.
Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)