$500m Chinese loan already approved, probe unnecessary – Reps

$500m Chinese loan already approved, probe unnecessary – Reps

The House of Representatives has defended its decision to suspend activities of its standing and ad hoc committees, saying there was no hidden agenda.

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The House of Representatives has defended its decision to suspend activities of its standing and ad hoc committees, saying there was no hidden agenda. It also faulted its Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements for investigating the $500m loan facility Nigeria recently secured from China, saying it had already been approved by the National Assembly and captured in the 2020 Appropriation Act.

But before activities of the committees were suspended on Thursday, the Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements had written the Ministry of Transportation, demanding documents containing loan agreements with China from 2000 to date. Among the facilities the committee is probing is the $500m loan secured from China-EXIM Bank to finance railway projects under the Ministry of Transportation.

The Peoples Democratic Party had, on Saturday, asked the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to step aside for allegedly frustrating investigations into executive corruption. The party stated this in a statement titled, ‘PDP Berates Gbajabiamila For Frustrating Corruption Investigation in the House of Representatives … Asks Speaker to Step Aside,’ signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.

But the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, who is also the leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress caucus in the House, in a statement on Monday, berated the PDP for faulting the decision of the House to stop committees from investigative hearings. According to the lawmaker, it has never been the practice of the House to continue with committee engagements while on annual recess, especially with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Ado-Doguwa added, “It will be of interest to the PDP, the investigations the House is currently undertaking, including the Chinese loans, cover the 16 years the PDP was in power and when most of the loans were obtained.  So, maybe they should be thanking the House leadership for covering up their misdeeds.

“Hence, making reference to the recent $500m China loan by the PDP spokesman which has already been approved by the National Assembly through a transparent and formal request was either a deliberate misrepresentation of facts or an utter ignorance of  history. Therefore, it is pertinent to know that the government has already captured the recent loan in the 2020 appropriation law and it should not be a subject of any controversy or query in the committee’s investigation process, at least for now.  And as a matter of norm and procedure, the House can only wait until disbursements and utilisation commence before embarking on oversight implementation.”

The Majority Leader however stated that the House had not discontinued other investigations, including those concerning the Niger Delta Development Commission, the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund, power sector as well as all other allegations of corruption in ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government.
“All the pending investigations will continue as the House reconvenes,” he stated.

“At this point, I must also make it clear that the House of Representatives has no clandestine plans or motives to cover up any corrupt engagement or business of the government. But as rational and progressive members, we are indeed committed to our partnership with Buhari administration to fight corruption in all ramifications, and provide good governance. Consequently, it must be borne in mind that gone are those seasons when the legislative arm of government would be stampeded or used by the so-called opposition forces to discredit, undermine or malign our own government,” Dogunwa said.

Punch