By Onozure Dania
A former Chairman of the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Adesina Ogunlana, has called on Nigerians and other civil society organisations, to demand the cancellation of the China loans agreement and expunge all anti- sovereignty clauses.
Ogunlana, who is the Chairman of the Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association (RAMINBA), said the only way the government’s attention can be drawn to cancel the loans, is through lawful and peaceful petitions, demonstrations, press conferences, workshops and Townhall meetings
He said the minister of transportation Mr Rotimi Amechi, said ” I have told the House of Representatives that it is a clause in the loan agreement. Like the loan for the construction of Ibadan to Kano railway is $5.3 billion, the implication is that if we can’t pay the money, whatever they need to take from us they would take, without us talking about our sovereignty… Most times what the Chinese do is to go after the asset that has been constricted and then use it to recover their money, so what’s wrong with that? You are asking for N5.3 billion dollars and they are asking you to give that sovereignty that would ensure they get back their money, if you say no, what other assurance do you give?”.
However Ogunlana in a briefing in Lagos, with the topic Chinese Railway loans and fears over Nigeria’s loss of Sovereignty: Much Ado About Nothing?, said according to the agreement which was signed by the Federal Ministry of Finance on behalf of Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China on September 5, 2018, Article 8 (1) provides that ” The borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5) thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic assets”.
Ogunlana, further stated that statistics have shown that Nigeria has obtained 17 different Chinese loans to fund different categories of capital projects, and Nigeria will still be servicing the Chinese loans till around 2038, which is the maturity date for the last loans obtain in 2018.
He said that we must stand up and demand the cancellation of the Chinese loans, as Nigeria currently owes China about $3.1billion, more than 10% of the $ 27.6billion external debt stock.
” Nigeria’s debt independent revenue is at 96% now. What this means is that for every N1, the country earns as revenue, 96 kobos are used to refund loans”.
Ogunlana said that according to statistics, the Chinese Exim Bank has offered $6.6billion to the Nigerian government out of 64 countries that host the Chinese Belt and Road initiative projects, 20 have gone under distress and 8 are about to lose their sovereign debt sustainability if they should take a further loan.
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