Secretary General of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Chief Willy Ezugwu, in this interview, speaks on the controversies over loans obtained by the present administration from the Chinese government, among other issues
What is your take on the controversies trailing the $5.3bn loan obtained by the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) government from the Chinese government?
It is really sad that as a nation, we find ourselves in this situation, But going forward, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, should step aside. while the probe of the alleged lethal clauses in Article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China, which allegedly ‘wills the sovereignty of Nigeria’ in the $400 million loan for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project, signed in 2018.
This is as I commend the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Agreements, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai for observing the anomaly and not succumbing to the minister’s antics aimed at truncating the investigative hearing into some of the agreements signed between Nigeria and China, while responding to various questions on the ongoing modernisation of railway projects being implemented by his ministry.
I am aware that the minister is expected to appear again before the House of Representatives on August 17 over the investigation. To me, for Amaechi to urge the House Committee not to investigate the terms of the loans being received by the Federal Government because he believed that the probe will jeopardise the chances of the country getting further loans is nothing but a cover up attempt that must be strongly resisted.
Don’t you some element of truth on the issue raised by minister?
The minister’s argument that China was monitoring happenings in Nigeria and that the probe will send a negative message to the Asian country about Nigeria is clearly an affront on the intelligence of the Nigerian people. I believe that the real fear of the Minister of Transportation is that if the probe continues, at the end of the day, his deeds against the Nigerian people will come to the open. So, I call on him to step aside for proper investigation as he has proven that by his defence in favour of the defective loan agreement, he has something to hide.
Conveners of the RevolutionNow Movement recently organised a protest that held in some cities across the country but there was alleged brutality of the protesters by security agents. What do you make of that development?
I condemn such act by the security agents in strong terms. One wonders why policemen who have been in hiding since the ongoing massacre of citizens in Southern Kaduna have suddenly woken up from their slumber to arrest defenceless youths, who are merely asking them to do their constitutional job of protecting lives.
Security of lives and property is the only reason a government should primarily exist. If a government cannot protect lives and property as a primary duty as enshrined in Chapter 2 of the 1999 constitution as amended, leaders under such government should hide their faces in shame. It is unfortunate that at a time members of international community are raising red flags to their citizens not to travel to Nigeria, the police and other security agencies are busy arresting frustrated young people, who are urging them to protect their lives and that of their parents.
How would you want the government to intervene on this to forestall degeneration of the protests?
I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the nation’s security chiefs to order and save the country from impending violence as these peaceful demonstrators could be forced to become confrontational, leading to a serious threat to law and order. Mr. President should know that it is time to end the incessant killings in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country and restore the confidence of Nigerians and the international community in the ability of Nigeria to take charge of her internal security.
Nigerian security agencies should learn to be more civil and stop manhandling and militarisation defenceless young citizens for demanding good governance and responsible leadership. Enough of the bloodshed across the country!