* I don’t take loans, I only implement ― Amaechi
By Olayinka Ajayi
Nigeria’s former external affairs Minister, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi has berated the House Committee on Protocol and Agreement over the controversial bilateral economic agreement between Nigeria and China.
The renowned Professor of political science who shared his WhatsApp chat with Vanguard in a chat with daily motion explained that: “There is absolutely nothing wrong with Africa broadening its interaction with the economic global communities rather than depending on one source alone. Yes, it makes sense to have many economic and trading partners”.
The former Minister who admonished African leaders to beware of what he described as propaganda of the West added: “What we should consider is the terms of engagement. We should separate that from the propaganda we are getting from the West that we should have nothing to do with China. We should be afraid of Chinese domination, we should be afraid of getting China too deeply involved in African affairs.
“They are simply trying to protect their own trading relationship with Africa. However, we must look very closely into the terms of agreement. First, the African government should not sign an agreement that they know they cannot operate and it will not be in their interest and at the end of the day, they would not be able to pay. It doesn’t make sense that the Chinese give you Yuan (the Chinese currency), but you pay back in Dollars. That is an unequal term of agreement we shouldn’t toll with.
” Secondly, look at the project itself, would it be in your favour in the future? What is the point for Chinese trying to build a railway system which we will pay off say in 20years? When the volume of people travelling the railway system cannot sustain the railway system? If the income generated can pay the debt, by all means, go ahead but if by the end of the day you will not be able to fulfil the economic terms, then don’t go into it.
“Let us not be emotional about it, there is a clause about this agreement. The clause says: ‘Country X cannot plea his sovereignty, to protect it, there is a need to go to arbitration. You cannot say I am a sovereign country, you cannot drag me to a court of arbitration. That is standard procedure, economic relations are different from political relations. In political relations, you can plead your sovereignty to protect you but in economic relations, you cannot plea your sovereignty to protect you.
“There are several cases I can present to you to prove that in economic relations your sovereignty cannot be a cover from not going to court of arbitration. There are several cases in a British court on contract agreements Involving foreign companies and African government”.
Rail system will help grow economy — Amaechi insist
Responding to the controversy trailing the issues, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi in a phone call to a large proportion aligned with Prof. Akinyemi, however, maintained that the rail system cannot as a sector pay back the loan but will help to fast track economic development in a State.
According to the Transport Minister: “On the waiver of the borrower’s sovereignty, what Prof. Akinyemi said is the law. You have to guarantee the lending country of payment. The $500million was borrowed during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and we have paid back to the tone $98 million.
“Meanwhile, the railway helps to grow the economy of a state and we will pay back through other means and sources.
“Sometimes, the way Nigerians talk, you will think the lending country will come immediately. There are procedures for it.
“Clause 8 is standard. It is just to protect the lender from the borrower. They have said it repeatedly, the Minister of transport only implement loan, I don’t take loan”