Reps Majority Leader, Doguwa, Defends $500bn Chinese Loans

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SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 25 – The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives on Monday defended the decision of the House to suspend activities of its standing and ad hoc committees, saying there was no hidden agenda.

He also faulted House 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 (PDP) had, on Saturday, asked the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to step aside for allegedly frustrating investigations into executive corruption.

But the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, who is also the leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) 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.

Ado-Doguwa said, “It is at first repulsive for an opposition party, the PDP, that has seemingly lost the actual meaning and essence of opposition, to have brought in undue politics into a matter of national interest, especially at the time of prevailing health and economic challenges.

“Although one should not have glorified them with a response by wasting precious time required for fixing the economic woes which they recklessly plunged the country into, it has become imperative, for the sake of educating their sympathizers, to set the record unambiguously straight.

“It is ridiculous to discover that the PDP, a supposedly major opposition party in the country, does not know the workings of the National Assembly, let alone know where the constitution and the House procedures have been breached.”

“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.”

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.

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