Abuja — Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday declared that the federal government only obtained $1.6 billion contract loan from China, as against $33 billion claimed by the House of Representatives.
The Minister said his ministry only obtained $1.6 billion contract for Lagos-Ibadan rail project.
Amaechi, while appearing before the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreement at the resumed hearing on loan agreements between Nigeria and China on Monday, described the probe as political saying the Lagos-Ibadan rail project was currently under threat as aresult of the ongoing probe by the House.
A mild drama, however, ensued when the minister vehemently disagreed with the chairman of the Committee, Hon Ossai Nicholas Ossai, and the heated argument forced the Committee to suspend proceedings for about 30 minutes after Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila waded in to restore orderliness.
Ossai had at the start of the hearing expressed displeasure with the Ministry of Transport for allegedly obtaining over $33 billion loans from China for the construction rail project without any clear cut financing arrangements.
Ossai claimed that most of the commercial contracts agreements lacked local content clauses, adding it was unfortunate that the deals were sealed by non-designated and authorized officials. But in a swift reaction, Amaechi insisted that there was no iota truth that his ministry obtained $33 billion for the construction of railway projects in the country.
The Minister who had a hot exchange of words with Ossai disclosed that his ministry has so far obtained a loan of $1.6 billion for the construction of Lagos -Ibadan railway project.
The minister, however, warned that the activities of the lawmakers would hinder the acquisition of the loans to finance the south-south rail projects, adding that the only loan secured by the present government was the NI.6 billion Lagos -Ibadan rail.