By Abdallah el-Kurebe
Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku has faulted the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly trading Nigeria’s sovereignty in order to secure China loan to fund rail projects.
Following reports that Nigeria had mortgaged its sovereignty for China loan for rail projects, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi in a statement on Sunday reacted that the sovereign guarantee and sovereign immunity clause raised by the National Assembly, NASS, is a term used to ensure that loans collected are paid back.
“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.
“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,” he argued.
However, Atiku in a statement on Sunday issued by his media office, expressed worry over Nigeria’s rising debt profile, noting that from a total foreign debt stock of $7.02 billion on May 29, 2015, the nation’s foreign debt has risen to $23 billion.
“Two months ago, the former Vice President of Nigeria and PDP Presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar 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.
“Expectedly, some managers of the party and even the government denied the allegations that he raised and also discounted the warning for caution.
“But, regrettably, just last week, a cabinet minister confirmed our 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!
“Nigeria had a total foreign debt stock of $7.02 billion on May 29, 2015. Today, our foreign debt is $23 billion and rapidly rising. Debt, by itself, is not a bad thing. But debt budgeted for such unproductive ventures, like the proposed $500 million upgrade of the Nigerian Television Authority 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!
“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 government could fund infrastructure development.
“But on the contrary, the Nigerian government under the banner of the All Progressives Congress threaded the direction of looking for cheap foreign loans in exchange for the sovereignty for Nigeria,” the statement read in part,” the statement reads.
According to Atiku, Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration “initiated a National Privatization Programme with the sole objective of ensuring that the private sector took some measure of influence in social investment portfolio and, in some instances, provided funding for infrastructure development.
“There was nothing in that plan that traded Nigeria’s sovereignty for some cheap loans which, in the light of unfolding revelations of sleaze in some departments of government, would have ended in private pockets.
“The government of the day and the APC must apologize to Nigerians and make an admittance of guilt for taking the country through the throes of subjugation to another country,” he further stated.