The House of Representatives, on July 28, opened a can of worms on a $400 million commercial loan agreement signed, on September 5, 2018, between Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China.
The federal lawmakers had claimed that they spotted clauses in Article 8 of the loan agreement meant for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project which, according to them, cede the sovereignty of Nigeria to China.
The controversial clause 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.”
The disclosure by the House of Rep has since become a subject of wide debate with contenders queueing on different sides of the divide. Could all the noise-making have been avoided? Perhaps, yes!
The misgivings are but a clear indication of lack of synergy and exposes the perceived lack of effective working relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government.
But really what are the issues? Are there any foundations for the touted claim that some political office holders may have conspired to ‘sell the country?’ And, is it possible that the nation’s lawmakers never lent a voice to the process of obtaining the Chinese loan?
Some doubts may have been cleared by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who while speaking on a television programme, said: “There is no loan in Nigeria either internal or external that is not approved by the National Assembly, none.”
He argued further that the sovereign guarantee and sovereign immunity clause raised by the National Assembly were only a term used to ensure that loans collected were paid back, and in the case of default only the assets constructed with such a loan would be taken back.
“So, they are saying if you are not able to pay, don’t stop us from taking back those items that will make us recover our funds, so is China our father that will give us money for free?” he clarified.
No gain saying that the beauty of democracy lies in the separation of powers and centrality of the rule of law. The oversight interventions by lawmakers are such that cannot be waived aside for they are needed to build enduring institutions.
However, care must be taken to avoid unnecessary squabbles that are founded on ignorance and only intended as political games that end up stalling progress.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“In view of Senator Melaye’s antecedent, particularly in the House of Representatives where a brawl led by him led to untimely death of a member, I have decided to not ignore his threat to my life. Therefore, I am compelled to urge you to use your good offices to provide me with adequate security”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
On ‘repentant’ terrorists
On July 29, Senator Ali Ndume damned all consequences and expressly condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s amnesty programme for ‘repentant’ ex-Boko Haram terrorists.
He queried the reason for spending the nation’s funds to reform the terrorists while speaking on a radio programme in Kaduna State.
The Senator had said: “They are like Kharajites. Many among those released have since run away. They will never repent. The government should know what to do about them, but not re-introducing someone who killed your parent or relations to you.”
“Go to Gwoza and Bama; many of the ‘repentant’ terrorists have rejoined the bandits. There is nothing you can do to change a Boko Haram member,” he added.
As criticisms mount daily on government’s de-radicalisation programme, Ndume’s outbursts clearly illustrate the frustrations of many with the prosecution of the insurgency war.
And, being a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Senator from Borno gets highly commended for speaking truth to power.
Indeed, if Ndume speaks for the many who are disappointed with Buhari’s treatment of ex-terrorists, then the amnesty programme may rightly be termed a ‘fruitless venture’ with zero return for the huge sums of money committed to the exercise.
As the amnesty project proceeds unhindered, therefore, Nigerians will have to live with these posers:
1, Why has the government refrained from charging the insurgents for the crimes they have committed?
2, Is the amnesty programme capable of ending the insurgency?
3, Why does government fail to extend the same quality ‘care’ to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) whose lives have been destroyed by the insurgents?
Finally, it’s hoped that the story shared by Ndume about a reintegrated ex-member of Boko Haram who recently killed his father, stole his wealth and disappeared, is an isolated incident.
A member of the House of Representatives, Gabriel Saleh, on July 27, lashed out at the Buhari-led government over the lingering killings and destruction of property in southern Kaduna, Kaduna State.
While speaking on a television programme, Saleh sternly said: “So I feel the Federal Government has failed Nigeria. Our people are crying and suffering, over 40 people were killed in less than two weeks.
“We, the APC voted in Buhari because he was a (major) general but we are disappointed.”
The bloodletting in Southern Kaduna is pitiable. The insecurity in the region is gloomy. It is almost as if the people are left to their fate in the face of the never-ending attacks by suspected herdsmen and bandits amidst the curfew and reported high number of security operatives stationed there.
Saleh’s punch should trigger a deep reflection and soul searching for APC which he boldly called out while damning every consequence.
The lawmaker representing Kachia/Kagarko constituency, having fired verbal shots at the shortcomings of the Buhari government, can only hope that Mr President and the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, would evolve fresh strategies to rid the region of bandits.
Would APC interpret Saleh’s outcry a betrayal, bearing in mind that he is a member of the ruling party? Only time will tell.
Answer: Remi Tinubu
Senator Remi Tinubu made the statement on July 18, 2016. It was contained in a letter entitled: “Request for Police Protection” which she sent to the then Acting Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. This was seven days after she clashed with former Senator Dino Melaye during a Senate’s closed-door session.
By John Chukwu…
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