In the din over Nigeria's compounding debt profile towards China, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, claimed, on Channels TV, that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan collected loans from China during his administration; and that one of the loans collected by the Jonathan administration was used for the Abuja-Kaduna railway project.
VERDICT: The two claims are true. It is true that ex-President Jonathan signed loan agreements with China and that one of the loans was used to fund the Abuja-Kaduna railway project.
Checks by Legit.ng revealed that the Jonathan administration signed six loan agreements with China between 2010 and 2013.
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The loan agreements between Nigeria and China have recently been a matter of controversy among concerned Nigerians.
Recently, a House of Representatives panel raised concerns over a clause in one of the loan agreements with Export-Import Bank of China conceding Nigeria’s sovereignty to China if the country defaults.
In reaction to this, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, explained that the clause ‘waiving sovereignty’ in the loan agreement is only a contract term, a sovereign guarantee that assures payback according to the terms and conditions of any loan.
However, while featuring as a guest on AIT on Thursday, July 30, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Katch Ononuju, accused Amaechi of perpetrating fraud under the guise of securing loans for the railway projects and asked him to resign.
Ononuju also asked the federal government to apologise to Nigerians.
Responding to Ononuju’s allegations in an interview with Channels TV on Tuesday, August 4, Amaechi claimed that the PDP government, specifically the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, also took loans from China.
He said: “There’s a gentleman who went to AIT, and said ‘oh I should resign’ and I wonder which university he graduated from, certainly not University of Port Harcourt.
“He said I should resign. Resign from what? Are you saying those projects weren’t executed? Is there no Kaduna-Abuja railway?
“By the way, he said he is a PDP; that loan was taken under President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.
“The loan he’s talking about, the Kaduna-Abuja railway, was signed by the President Goodluck Jonathan government,” the minister said.
Claim one: Jonathan collected loan from China
To check the veracity of the transport minister's claim that ex-President Jonathan collected loans from China, Legit.ng surfed the website of Nigeria's Debt Management Office (DMO) for relevant documents.
The DMO is the government agency established to centrally coordinate the management of Nigeria's debt.
A document by the DMO tagged “Status of Loan Obtained from China Exim as at March 31”, 2020, covers the loans borrowed from China Exim from the Nigerian government so far.
According to the document, as at the end of March 2020, Nigeria has eleven active loan agreements with China Exim Bank.
Out of the 11 loan agreements, six were signed between 2010 and 2013. Jonathan was Nigeria's president from May 6, 2010 to May 29, 2015.
The first loan agreement on the DMO document, Nigerian National Public Security Communication System Project ($399.50 million) was signed on December 20, 2010, under Jonathan's administration.
There are five other loan agreements with China signed under the tenure of the former president listed in the document.
Claim two: The loan collected by Jonathan was for the Kaduna-Abuja railway.
Amaechi also claimed that one of the loans collected by the Jonathan administration was used to fund the Abuja-Kaduna railway project.
The DMO document also indicates that a $500 million loan agreement for Nigerian Railway Modernisation Project (Idu-Kaduna) was signed on December 20, 2010; also under Jonathan's administration.
Meanwhile, a fact-check by TheCable also confirms that the construction of the Abuja-Kaduna railway project began in 2011 when Jonathan was the president.
The claim by the transport minister that ex-President Jonathan also took loans from China is true.
It is equally true that one of the loan agreements signed by the Jonathan administration was meant for the Abuja-Kaduna railway project.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Legit.ng to facilitate the ethos of "truth" in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.
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