Following the takeover of infrastructure belonging to some African countries by the Chinese government due to debt default, the federal government of Nigeria has revealed that its agreement with China does not include property takeover.
Recall that countries like Sri Lanka, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, among others are facing pressure of forfeiting their infrastructure to China over unpaid debt. Due to this,there have been reservations about the financial assistance being given to Nigeria by the China Export-Import bank.
Speaking on the issue, Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, on Monday in Nairobi, Kenya at the 6th Annual East African Transport Infrastructure conference, categorically said that the agreements Nigeria entered into with the China Exim bank does not include property takeover in case of Nigeria’s inability to repay.
According to him, “I don’t know the arrangement these countries made with Exim bank, I do not think we will have any problems with repaying our loans. The countries that they are talking about are Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.
“These are some countries that have not been able to repay their loans I think. So what they (China) are doing is that, they are taking over to manage and get their money but it’s not so in Nigeria”.
Amaechi noted with dismay that the inability of these countries to pay is affecting Nigeria’s borrowing power.
“In fact it’s affecting our ability to borrow and they are now saying look, we can’t lend to you because these people are not ready to pay back. How do we know you are going to pay back?
“We are talking with them, to say that by June, we should be able to say this is our repayment plan. It also depends on what agreement plan you have with them, our agreement does not include the fact that they will come and take over our seaports or railways or airports.
“We believe that we can pay back using our own money. That shouldn’t be any problem, our focus should be to run this infrastructure efficiently so we can pay back and there is no plan for them to manage any of it” he stated.
“If you don’t go to China, who will give you money? America is going to China even Russia, what is wrong if Nigeria goes to China, I think we should not be afraid of China”, Amaechi emphasized.
Furthermore, the Minister explained that “nobody runs railway with passengers fare. You can never get one naira out of it. Nigerians think railway is just to carry passengers but the problem is that the goods that should be on the rail are the ones on the road and its destroying the road. Once we conclude the rail projects and those goods are transferred to the rail, that is when we will start making money to pay our debts.
“Currently our trains are carrying passengers, people are celebrating Lagos-Ibadan because they are looking at it that oh, I’ll just jump into the train and one hour, I’m already in Ibadan.
“That’s not the overall aim. The reason why the federal government say we must get to the seaports is to decongest the Apapa seaport. That’s where the money lies” he noted.