The Social Development Integrated Centre has condemned the comment by Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, that the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, should stop investigative hearings on Chinese loans.
The communications officer, Peace Agbo, in a statement on Monday, noted that the probe is to ensure that the country is not shortchanged.
The body flayed Amaechi’s claim that the probe if not suspended would scare the lenders.
Some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have asked him to resign.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government through Amaechi negotiated a loan deal worth $500m with China in 2018.
The group said the loan was without the approval of the National Assembly, “a violation of Section 25 of the Debt Management Office-DMO Act required the National Assembly’s approval on terms and conditions surrounding any loan”.
It wondered why the government signed the loan agreement which will require Nigeria to waive immunity on its sovereignty if there is a default in payment of the loan.
“It is inconceivable that Mr. Amaechi, will request for such hearings to be halted and not investigate the loans being received by the Federal government. This is unpatriotic to say the least, because such unguarded and anti-people statements can hinder any progress the country is making at achieving transparency and accountability.
“The Minister should be reminded that the payment of loans is the collective responsibility of Nigerian Tax Payers and not an individual affair. The Minister is of the opinion that the prospect of accountability will scare investors away. On the contrary, the absence of transparency and accountability in the midst of massive corruption is a major factor that will scare away investors.
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“We demand that this probe should commence and also be extended to other Institutions of the government as this will serve as a deterrent to leaders, improve accountability, give the country a sense of direction, restore and boost Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).”
Agbo told Amaechi that the lenders he is tenaciously protecting are not investors, but business minded individuals interested in feeding off the commonwealth of Nigerians, and subtly needs his collaboration.
The official noted that it’s unfortunate and disappointing that the government has decided to enslave Nigeria through taking these loan deals without considering the long term effect of their actions.
She insisted that the investigative hearing is important, so that Nigerians can know the terms of the numerous loan deals and also the economic importance of these loans.
The statement urged lawmakers to do their job of oversight while checking the excesses of the executive.
It, however, bashed the lackadaisical posture of the National Assembly, recalling that attention was not paid to the loans despite warning.
“The lawmakers should truly represent the people by carrying out their legislative responsibilities in a timely manner”, the body added.