The House of Representatives has been silent on the federal government’s alleged refusal to investigate commercial deals and external borrowing, which its investigating committee said contained “dangerous” caveats.
The investigation lasted 14 months, and the House Treaties, Protocols and Agreements Committee, chaired by Nicholas Ossai, did not submit a report.
Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi on June 16, 2021 thanked the President of the Senate Ahmad Lavan; and House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila for ending the investigation.
Answering questions on Channels Television’s Politics Today program, Amaechi argued that the investigation prevented China from providing more loans to Nigeria.
Amayachi said, “We are in trouble with the Ibadan-Kano railway due to the reaction of the National Assembly committee. The Chinese ask how they know that Nigeria wants to repay the debt when the National Assembly committee asks us about the terms of the agreement. There is a blow. Since then, we have not received a loan. We should have received a loan during the period that was, but from that period to the present, we have not received loans.
“So, the rail of Ibadan Kano, I will hang it on the National Assembly. But I must be grateful to both the President of the Senate and the Speaker for their intervention. They stepped in to stop a young man (Ossai), an honorary member who actually chaired the committee, and that helped a little. As I said, I am grateful to the speaker, and I am grateful to the President of the Senate, because when I complained, they listened to the complaint and stopped the committee. ”
Benjamin Kalou, chairman of the House Media and Public Affairs Committee, who was contacted to confirm whether the investigation was really a failure, referred our reporter to the committee chairman.
Kalu was first contacted via WhatsApp on June 25, 2021 and said, “Why not contact Ossai?”
Ossai, however, declined to comment on Amayechi’s statement. He was asked if his committee had suspended the investigation, but he did not respond, although WhatsApp indicated that he had read the message.
A reminder was sent to Ossai on Saturday, which he also read but did not reply.
On May 12, 2020, the House of Representatives held a plenary meeting criticizing Nigeria’s loan agreements with China, calling for a revision of the agreements and the repeal of the latter under the regime of President Major General Muhammadu Bukhari (retired).
He also denounced that the National Assembly did not have detailed information on loans, insisting that subsequent loans must comply with the Financial Responsibility Law.
The House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, led by Ossai, charged with investigating, raised the alarm about “dangerous” provisions in loans and commercial agreements with international organizations and other countries, especially China.
After the committee knocked out Amaechi in the first and second hearings, it invited several more ministers and senior federal government officials to a third hearing on that date.
Expected at the hearing: Minister of Construction and Housing Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Ali Pantami; The Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari; and Federal Capital Territory Minister Mohammed Bello.
Ossai, however, fired those who showed up and announced that lawmakers had instead summoned Justice Minister and Federation Attorney General Abubakar Malami (SAN), who should have been aware of the controversial provisions in the loans and agreements.
PUNCH reported exclusively on 19 August 2020 that pressure on the committee is increasing over the investigation, forcing the group to change its approach to the investigation, especially in open confrontation with ministers.
The committee held its third and final public event on the matter on August 18, 2020, when it suspended its hearing.
However, the investigation has never led to a definitive result as the committee has yet to submit its report to the House of Representatives more than a year later.