Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has explained that the clause ‘waiving sovereignty’ in the loan agreement between Nigeria and China is only a contract term, a sovereign guarantee that assures payback according to the terms and conditions of any loan.
Amaechi made the clarification while answering questions about the loan controversy on a TV programme, at the weekend. He also explained that the Ministry of Transportation is not responsible for taking loans, but to implement the project or contract for which the loans were taken. He said, “It is a commercial agreement, it’s a trade agreement between Nigeria and China. The first issue is that Ministry of Transport does not take loan. Anything about loan, talk to Ministry of Finance. What I signed is what they call commercial contract, that 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 on behalf of Nigeria, but that will be escaping the issue. Whether it is the Ministry of Finance that signed it or the Ministry of Transport, the issues are the issues. There is no contract without an agreement and that agreement must contain some terms and one of the terms that this one contains is not that you’re signing away the sovereignty of the country. No country will sign away its sovereignty. What you do is, you give a sovereign guarantee; and I’m ashamed of those who interpret it the wrong way.
“Now, when you say ‘I give you a sovereign guarantee and I waive that immunity clause, the immunity clause is that, if tomorrow I’m not able to pay you and you come to collect the items that we’ve agreed upon, that these are items I have put down as guarantee, I can use my immunity and say no, you cannot touch our assets, we are a sovereign country. Is China our father that will give us money for free? They (the Chinese) are saying, if you are not able to pay, don’t stop us from taking back those items that will help us recover our funds. And it’s a standard clause, whether it’s with America you signed it or with Britain or any country because they want to know they can recover their money.