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Amaechi frowns at House investigations of foreign loans as Senate summons Fashola, Ahmed, others over legacy projects

Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi says that the investigations of foreign loans taken by the Federal Government to execute infrastructural projects could send wrong signal to the lenders and may cause them to back out.

Amaechi said at an investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements in Abuja that the investigations could cause foreign partners to withdraw such loan facilities, which would have negative effect on Nigeria’s infrastructural development.

The Senate on Tuesday also summoned the Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed and the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, and the Managing Director of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr Uche Orji. over the funding status of three Federal Government legacy projects.

The legacy projects are the Abuja-Kano road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge.

The Transport Minister, who said that he has raised the concerns over the ongoing investigation by the House of Representatives with the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabimila, explained that the hearing could stop the loan facility the Federal Government ”is seeking for the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan and Kano rail projects.”

He, however, recommended that the hearing should be shifted to December when the loan facility would have been acquired.

The Chairman of the committee, Rep. Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta) said that the committee is empowered to conduct overnight before; during or after loan, facilities are acquired.

He said that the committee seeks to review all Nigeria’s bilateral loan agreement to ensure the country is not shortchange.

The Senate summons was issued by its Committee on Finance during an interactive meeting with officials of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

The legacy projects are being funded with the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) managed by the NSIA.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Solomon Olamilekan, said that the heads of the agencies were summoned to explain the issue of variation in the contract sum of the projects between the periods of initiation up to the time the PIDF took over the funding.

Earlier, Orji told the panel that the construction contracts were executed between the Ministry of Works and the contractors before they were transferred to the PIDF.

He said that all information and documentation relating to the projects prior to the handover should be sought from the Ministry of Works.

Orji said that the NSIA was not responsible for debts, accumulated on the projects because they preceded the establishment of the NSIA.

“All questions regarding the legacy debts are matters preceding our entrance. Those who were there should answer,” he stated.

The managing director explained further that NSIA had so far, disbursed N231.8 billion, with N60.9 billion disbursed to the Lagos-lbadan Expressway, N100.7 billion to the Second Niger Bridge and N70.1 billion to the Abuja-Kano Road.

He said the PIDF balance as at June 2020 stood at N181.4 billion.

The balance, he added, incorporated the receipt of the recovered looted asset of 311 million dollars.

“We estimate that these funds will be depleted by the beginning of Q3 2021. Under the PIDF mandate, NSIA is to receive two transfers of 650 million dollars. So far, NSIA has received one of the transfers. Once the funding in Q3 2021 is expended, NSIA will either need the additional transfer or raise funding from other sources,” he said.

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