Reps C’ttee, Transport Ministry disagree over contract figures

Rotimi Amaechi: Minister Transportation

The Chairman of the committee, Rep. Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta) at a public hearing in Abuja, said that the ministry had signed commercial contracts worth 33 billion dollars without clear cut financing arrangements.

According to Ossai, the essence of the probe is to get clarifications on all the agreements.

He said that there were more than 500 loans and bilateral agreements among Nigeria and other governments and international organisations.

“We have noticed from documents available to us that commercial contracts prices signed by the Federal Ministry of Transport alone within this period is over 33 billion dollars without any clear cut financing arrangements.

“Most of these commercial contracts agreements didn’t also have local content clauses and there were no witnesses and designated and authorised officials.

“There are observable issues relating to procurement process evidences of 15 per cent advanced payments, payment of management fees, draw down process and remittances and a whole lot of other matters.

“We are strongly poised to ask questions on and hope to get honest answers that will fine tune the current process, plan for possible renegotiation of some these agreements in order to serve Nigerians better,” he said.

The lawmaker said that the parliament “cannot continue to approve loans without asking relevant questions.’’

Ossai called on all key actors and stakeholders to stop the politicisation of the investigation.

“For us, if you believe in the progress and sustainable development of our country, then you should naturally cooperate with the work of this committee.”

“To see to it that there is guarantee of value for money in all government expenditures and borrowing plans, as well as government policies, programmes and projects,” he added.

Responding, the Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amechi told the committee that there was no such loan of 33 billion dollars in the ministry.

Amechi said that the ministry had only signed a loan agreement of 1.6 billion dollars under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The minister explained that the amount was being used in the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.

He said that there were more than 20,000 Nigerians working on the project as well as 560 Chinese workers.

The minister said that the Chinese government provided 1.2 billion dollars while the Federal Government provided the remaining 400 million dollars.

Amechi said that another loan of 800 million dollars was taken under the Goodluck Jonathan administration and that the project was 80 per cent completed before he was appointed minister.