*Insists APC has placed Nigeria on the international auction market
*Buhari, APC owe Nigerians apology– Atiku
*Without loans, there’ll be no development– Amaechi insists
As outrage continues to trail the revelation of obnoxious clauses in loan agreements which Nigeria enters with Chinese government, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP said it has been vindicated by its stand that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has been secretly mortgaging Nigeria for selfish interests.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, PDP said its investigation showed that the mortgaging of Nigeria’s sovereignty to foreign lenders, including the exposed $500 million loan from China, has been with the active connivance of the APC as a party, even when such is against national interest.
The statement said that PDP strongly rejects the attempts by the Buhari administration to justify the reprehensible pawning of Nigeria’s sovereignty to a foreign interest, recalling that PDP had on May 28, this year, alerted that the Buhari administration and the APC had placed Nigeria on the international auction market with accumulation of foreign loans under nebulous terms and conditions.
The party therefore declares that the APC agenda offend the corporate existence Nigeria as a nation and grossly violate the fundamentals of her Constitution as a self-governing state, which grants no space for any form of takeover of any of her national interests by foreigners under any condition whatsoever.
It noted that such mortgaging of Nigeria’s sovereignty in a loan agreement is in further violation of the oath of office of the President to protect the interest of the sovereignty of the country.
“This gambling with our sovereignty amounts to an unpardonable treachery against our nation and the future of our generations yet unborn particularly given the level of incompetence, corruption, treasury looting, as well as betrayal of public trust by officials of the APC administration, which President Buhari had also confirmed.
“The PDP is further irked by the arrogance being displayed by some officials of the Buhari administration who, rather than being remorseful, are daring Nigerians and the National Assembly over the matter.
“The attitude of government officials including the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who instead of taking steps to reassure Nigerians, is referring to ceding of control and ownership of assets in the event of default, further raises questions regarding the reliability of the current administration.
“The PDP holds that the demand for such toxic terms by the Chinese lenders underscores the loss of confidence by the international community in the Buhari administration, whose corruption has made it so untrustworthy that lenders now demand that we cede our sovereignty as condition.
“As a pan Nigerian party, the PDP declares that our sovereignty as a nation remains non-negotiable. Nigerians reject such sovereignty-pawning clauses and are not ready to mortgage any parts of our country under any guise whatsoever.
“In that regard, the PDP charges the APC administration to retrace its step and halt every action regarding the administration of the loan until all toxic clauses are deleted from the agreement,” the statement added.
On his part, former Vice President and PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atilu Abubakar said the government of the day and the APC must apologise to Nigerians and make an admittance of guilt for taking the country through the throes of subjugation to another country.
A statement from Atiku Media Office recalled that two months ago, the former Vice President patriotically called the attention of the country to the reality of reckless borrowing by the present APC administration and how the terms of those loans could compromise the future of the country.
It said expectedly, some managers of the party and even the government denied the allegations that he raised and also discounted the warning for caution, regretting that just last week, a cabinet minister confirmed his fears.
“Now, we all are aware that Nigeria’s sovereignty may have been traded for foreign loans and God forbids our inability to service those loans, the lender country would take ownership of choice infrastructure on the Nigerian soil. No negotiation could be weaker than that,” the statement noted.
It further recalled that Nigeria had a total foreign debt stock of $7.02 billion on May 29, 2015 but today, her foreign debt is $23 billion and rapidly rising, stressing however that debt, by itself, is not a bad thing.
It warned that debt budgeted for such unproductive ventures like the proposed $500 million upgrade of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA and other sundry bogus contracts, is debt that leads to death.
“To trade Nigeria’s sovereignty for this type of profligacy is the height of irresponsibility,” the statement declared, and stated that Atiku Abubakar has long advocated for a more robust engagement of the private sector and promotion of foreign direct investment as sustainable alternatives through which the government could fund infrastructure development.
But on the contrary, the Nigerian government under the banner of APC threaded the direction of looking for cheap foreign loans in exchange for sovereignty for Nigeria.
However, reacting to the public outcry over clauses in the loan agreement with China, Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi insisted that there would be no development of infrastructure if Nigeria stops taking loans.
He said the Buhari administration had to rely on loans when it took off in 2015 because, according to him, there was no money on ground.
It will be recalled that a House of Representatives panel had 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 but Amaechi said contracts signed with China do not cede the country’s sovereignty.
He explained that the clause is only a diplomatic agreement between both parties to ensure payment is made accordingly.
“Whether it is the Ministry of Finance that signed it or the Ministry of Transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you a 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 does is to say to you, 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,” he said, insisting that clause is a standard feature in every agreement to ensure the lending country receives its money.
“When we stop collecting the loans, then we stop developing because there was no money when we came into government; by the time we came, the money had been blown away.
“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 an immunity clause, the immunity clause is that if tomorrow I am not able to pay you and you come to collect the items that we have agreed upon, these are items that I am putting down as guarantee. I can waive my immunity and say no you can’t touch it I am a 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. Is China our father that will give us money for free? It is a standard clause in every agreement, whether it is America we signed it with, whether it is Britain, any country would want to know that they can recover their money,” Amaechi further explained.
Allaying the fears of Nigerians, Amaechi added that the federal government has the capability to pay back loans collected for the construction of rail projects within the stipulated period of 20 years.