Okonjo-Iweala explains China loan
Part of a $1 billion loan from China for railway projects was not diverted, according to former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Her statement comes after President Muhammad Buhari had stated that the ministry, under former president Goodluck Jonathan, had diverted the funds to other places.
Okonjo-Iweala, in a statement through her adviser, Mr Paul Nwabuikwu, explained that the funds had been handed to contractors by the China-Exim Bank itself.
She revealed that $500m was used for the expansion of four International Airport Terminals in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt; $500m for the Abuja Light Rail project; $984m for the Zungeru Hydro-electric power project and $100m for the Galaxy Backbone project.
“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 EximBank 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-EximBank. But in the end, no funds were assigned for the Lagos-Ibadan rail project by the China-EximBank.”