China’s Loans to Nigeria: Our nation’s sovereignty under threat

It is very important that the Nigerian populace is enlightened about the state of the nation, especially as it concerns Nigeria’s borrowing status and specifically as it concerns China’s loans to Nigeria.

According to the Debt Management Office, DMO, Nigeria has borrowed a total of ₦1,126.68 billion at USD/₦361 (USD3.121 billion) as at March 31, 2020, and this amount represents only 3.94% of Nigeria’s Total Public Debt of USD79.303 billion (₦28,628.49 billion at USD/₦361) as at March 31, 2020. In terms of external sources of funds, loans from the Chinese government account for 11.28% of the External Debt Stock of USD27.67 billion at the same date. Now, two main issues that have been seriously looked out and greatly discussed is the sovereignty of Nigeria as a nation and its immunity.

It is on record that China has had to seize and take over ownership of some assets when Zambia and some African countries failed in paying back the loans they took from them. But it seems Nigeria is preparing to go in this same direction if her leaders continue in financial recklessness. The Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi had admitted that indeed if Nigeria failed in paying back as stipulated, the assets for which reasons the loans were collected would be taken over and become China’s.

Amaechi said, “The terms contained in the agreement is not as if we are signing off the country’s sovereignty. What we do is that we give a sovereign guarantee, which is an immunity clause. The clause is that in the case of the country defaults, China will come to collect the items agreed upon.”

More troubling is the fact that the National Assembly was not carried along in this borrowing. Of course, this is against the nation’s constitution. Baring his mind on the matter, Olisa Agbakoba, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) likened China’s Loans to Nigeria as a commercial transaction, saying that it was not out of place for assets to be seized and taken over if Nigeria failed to pay and that it had no threat to the nation’s sovereignty. However, another expert opined that the nation’s sovereignty is under serious threat, saying that if an airport or railway, for example, is seized and taken over by another nation, then the sovereignty is under threat. Of course, the USD3.121 billion loans are said to be tied to projects which include: Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Idu-Kaduna section), Abuja Light Rail Project, Nigerian Four Airport Terminals Expansion Project (Abuja, Kano, Lagos, and Port Harcourt), Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Lagos-Ibadan section) and Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Abuja – Keffi- Makurdi Road Project. Although this will provide jobs, the most important is that the loan should be used for the purpose for which it was borrowed and because governance is a continuum, this government and subsequent ones should show responsibility in paying as stipulated.

Nigerians should also wake up more to demand accountability of government.

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