Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Agreements and Protocol, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, on Tuesday insisted that his committee has the mandate of the House to investigate the loan agreements between Nigeria and China and other loans obtained by the country.
Ossai, in a statement, described comments credited to a member of the House that the committee was operating outside its mandate as false and unpatriotic.
The probe of loans obtained by the government from China and other countries by the Committee on Treaties, Agreements and Protocol has been a source of controversy within and outside the parliament, especially if the panel was acting within its mandate.
Ossai explained that the probe was in pursuance of a motion on the “Need to Review and Renegotiate Existing China/Nigeria Loan Agreements” adopted recently.
He added that the House also adopted another motion directing all Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to transmit all treaties and bilateral/contractual agreements to the National Assembly.
According to him, the House mandated ‘the Committee to examine all extant China/Nigeria loan agreements since 2000 with a view to ascertaining their viability, regularising and renegotiating them; and b. mandate the Committees on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, to liaise with the Ministry of Finance, and the Debt Management Office to seek for the review or outright cancellation of the latest China loans to Nigeria, on the principle of force majeure in the light of the COVID-19.’
Ossai added that the committee ‘cannot effectively carry out the enormous responsibilities of reviewing the agreements with a view to ascertain their viability, regularization, domestication and possible renegotiation without reviewing the commercial contracts agreements upon which the facilities were secured.’