The Senate yesterday said approval of $5.8 billion loan request by the federal government from the China Exim Bank is conditional. This was sequel to a motion raised by Senator Abaribe (PDP Abia South). Abaribe saw no reason why the loan would be paid back by all sections of the country but will profit all regions except the South East
For Sen. Gbenga Ashafa who opposed the motion, government is a continuum and the South East would be captured in the long run. His comment did not go down well with many of the senators who shouted him down.
The Deputy President of the Senate expressed his support for the motion stressing that the loan should benefit all parts of the country.
The Senate upheld the argument that the South east should not be compelled to accept exclusion from the rail project that the loan was needed for. The centralized government had requested approval of the overall sum of $5.8 billion for the standard Guage lines from Lagos-Kano, Kano-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan, and port Calabar.
The Senate said that it fully was disturbed that the section between the South East to North East components of the railway was totally excluded from the request. Senate President Bukola Saraki said he had also taken up the issue with the executive arm of government.
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo in a statement also said there was no justification in excluding the South East region from the program.
Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, however defended the loan. Adeosun noted that Chinese EXIM loan was extraordinarily competitive, stressing that Nigeria had nearly lost credibility in accessing loans thanks to lack of past payments of counterpart funds, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari’s state visit to China in 2015 however, helped in restoring credibility.
Meanwhile, the Senate okayed the motion to invite the minister of transportation to clarify the lines excluded from the program and profer answers.
Also, the Senate, yesterday said that the Chinese Construction Firm China Rail, CCECC, acting on Federal Republic of Nigeria Railways ought to use Nigerian workers for all phases of the development works and at the same time it insisted on compliance with native or local content law.