From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
The Federal Government has lashed out at some Nigerians critical of the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s penchant for foreign loans, assuring the government has not signed away the nation’s sovereignty in loan commitment to China.
Speaking to Daily Sun in Abuja, Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said that the government has always budgeted for its counterpart funding for most of the contracts it has with China.
Talking specifically on the Abuja-Keffi Road where the government was expected to contribute 15 per cent equity fund for the expansion of the road, Fashola said that not only that has the government provided for its counterpart funding of Phase 1, it has also made provision for Phase 2 of the project.
According to him, other projects are being funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and SUKUK funds.
“We have budgeted for our counterpart funding. We did that last year. But, if you go into the budget, you will see about fifty something billion. It is to pay our counterpart funding of Phase 1 and to provide for Phase 2. If the road is approved today, we will start work and our obligation to pay our 58 per cent tax today. So, we have not only provided for Phase 1, we have provided in anticipation for Phase 2. We have also provided for so many other things. Nigerians will say that we have signed away our sovereignty and all of that; it is not true but that is a matter for another day’s discussion. To the best of my knowledge, these two projects are the only projects being funded by this ministry. So, contrary to the impression being created out there, that we have taken so much loan, it is not true! The other project being funded by multilateral loan is funded by the African Development Bank. That is Enugu to Bermenga Road and the bridge project that links Nigeria to Cameroon. It was a joint venture between Nigeria and Cameroon; to create a faster border crossing between Nigeria and Cameroon, after the Bakassi section. In fact, that bridge is essentially finished. We will hand it over later this year. So, Cameroon took a loan, we also took a loan. Just to be specific, those are the two projects being funded by China funding; contrary to what is being pushed out there” he insisted.