Former Finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has reacted to reports of a diversion of $600 million from a $1 billion loan collected from the Chinese Exim Bank meant to be used for the construction of a standard gauge rail line linking Lagos to Kano while she served as Minister of Finance in the last administration.
Representatives of the Transport ministry had on August 10th told President Buhari that $600 million had been diverted from the railway loan. Read Okonjo-Iweala’s reaction as signed and released by her media aide Paul Nwabuikwu today after the cut.
Since this story was first reported, we have continued to receive media inquiries regarding an allegation reportedly made by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Alhaji Mohammed Bashar, that a substantial part of a $1bn loan obtained from the China-EximBank by the Jonathan administration for a Kano-Lagos rail project was diverted to other projects.
I want to state categorically that there is no truth in the reported allegation. Anyone who is interested can cross-check with the China-EximBank or the Chinese Embassy.
It is noteworthy that even though President Buhari, in his reported comments on the allegation, made no reference to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala but rightly stressed the need for due process and transparency in the execution of public projects, a sponsored media campaign has once again been launched by political elements to make the former Minister the culprit in a non-existent scandal.
The alleged diversion has no substance for the simple reason that the Kano-Lagos project was not even among the projects presented for funding by the China-Exim Bank for several strategic infrastructural projects across the country.
In fact, it was the Lagos–Ibadan rail project, not Lagos-Kano rail project that was proposed in the original application to the China-Exim Bank. But in the end, no funds were assigned for the Lagos-Ibadan rail project by the China-EximBank.
The fact which can be confirmed is that the following projects which are at various stages of progress are being funded from facilities obtained from the China-Exim Bank:
- $500 million for the expansion of four International Airport Terminals in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
- $500 million for the Abuja Light Rail project
- $984 million for the Zungeru Hydro-electric power project.
- $100 million for the Galaxy Backbone project
Media Adviser to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala