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Diverted $1 Billion Rail Transport Loan Saga: Okonjo-Iweala Denies Allegations

BellaNaija.com

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - Bella Naija

Last week, President Buhari queried the Ministry of Finance regarding the whereabouts of the foreign loans obtained for rail projects but diverted to other purposes under the watch of former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala.

Okonjo-Iweala has denied the allegations, ThisDay reports.

She released a statement on the matter via her Media Adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu:

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 crosscheck 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.

According to her, it was the Lagos–Ibadan rail project and not the Lagos-Kano rail project that was proposed in the original application to the China-EximBank, adding that 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,” she said.

The statement listed them as $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, and $100 million for the Galaxy Backbone project.

“It is also important to note that even if the alleged project was on the list of China-EximBank funded projects, diversion of any Chinese funds would have been extremely difficult because the terms of the contract and the processes would simply not have permitted such action.

The procedure is that funds for approved loans remain in the China-EximBank and are released directly to the Chinese firm executing the contract only after the presentation of duly certified proof of work by the responsible Ministry, in this case it would have been the Federal Ministry of Transport, based on the agreed milestones.
For the sake of emphasis, the China-EximBank does not disburse money directly to government and therefore the issue of diversion does not arise.

This is yet another example of the kind of whispering campaign of calumny, innuendo, misinformation, and outright distortions being perpetrated by certain political elements against Dr. Okonjo-Iweala in a bid to try to damage her reputation. We are confident that those behind this campaign will continue to fail.

We respectfully request the media to refrain from attaching Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s name and photographs to spurious and unfounded allegations. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as a Nigerian citizen in a democracy, a citizen who has served her country with honesty and integrity, also has some fundamental rights to justice and fair play,” the statement added.

14 Comments

  1. leftbrained

    August 17, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Do not use grammar to confuse us. Is that not how she said the economy is good while millions of Nigerians are living below poverty level? As long has the embezzlement happens under your watch, you are responsible for it….,,,,
    Go and tell that to the birdie that you re not involved

    • Professor X

      August 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Reading is essential. There was no copious use of grammar. If there was, let me translate:
      1. There was NEVER a Lagos-Kano express rail project
      2. The idea for a LAGOS-IBADAN express rail was floated but DID NOT make it to final talks/plan for the Chinese Loan for infrastructure building.
      3. The Chinese govt does NOT disburse loan funds to the Nigerian government (correct decision – Naija thieves everywhere man).
      4. Rather, the funds are disbursed directly to the Chinese company that has been approved by the Nigerian govt to carry out the project.
      5. Essentially, the Chinese bypass the issue of corruption and embezzlement of funds by giving funds only directly to Chinese companies (you see their sense — they borrow you money, then insist that you use their companies. Do they even hire Nigerian workers?)
      6. Finally, APC continues to muddle issues and cannot face their work.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      August 17, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Professor X thank you jare. I am tired. APC strategy is just to perpetual throw around ludicrous charges of corruption left right and center. The other work we sent them to do … nothing. I am not saying stop probing people, but probe with objectivity and provide details. Don’t tell us one minister stole 1 million barrels of Oil daily but then not mention their name. Its getting tiring.

  2. gbaskelebo

    August 17, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Why is the APC government still behaving as if they are in the opposition when they are the ruling party???? They should let this woman be.

  3. DAME

    August 17, 2015 at 9:34 am

    NOI keeps acting like she does not know what a statement of account mean ! Aunty Ngo pls prove us wrong and show the account statement till date , all this denial is not gonna help anyone

    • Y

      August 17, 2015 at 10:52 am

      He who asserts must prove. APC is in government. Everything is in their possession, including the ‘account statement’ you’re looking for. The burden of proof is on the accuser, not the other way round.

  4. leftbrained

    August 17, 2015 at 10:02 am

    When the cobra decide to attack, everybody call it a bad name

  5. NG

    August 17, 2015 at 10:35 am

    If you are confused by this statement, then one will ask what you are on doing on this site. You dont even need much of a leftbrain function to understand her response (lol).

  6. NG

    August 17, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Hoping on a folllow-up from the government end to justify the claim of diversion else all the other accusations so far levelled against the past government may be seen as mere hot air.

    If indeed this explanation rests this matter, then one will question the competence of government personnel currently investigating alleged graft by the past government and, more importantly, the objectivity of such investigations.

  7. honey omo lekki

    August 17, 2015 at 11:20 am

    We don hear your grammar.
    But, of all the projects that you claimed to have carried out with the funds, which one can we Nigerians honestly say is worth the funds disbursed.

    Lagos Airport is still the same. They started on construction years ago,nothing to show for it. Ditto for Abuja airport.

    And for those living in Abuja, is there evidence of any light rail project going on there?

    Somebody please expantiate the galaxy backbone project for me. Isn’t that the Abuja CCTV project that didn’t see the light of day?

    This madam, it will do you well to keep quite unless you are very very sure your hands are clean. Because, by the time evidence mounts against you, you will so be a laughing stock of all Nigerians that even Yale University (or which university sef) will withdraw the honorary award they gave you.

    • honey omo lekki

      August 17, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      *quiet*

  8. Ada

    August 17, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Loan or no loan. We should be careful how we take monies or give contracts to the Chinese. They will take over our economy if we are not careful. Go to east Africa ie Kenya and Uganda and see how the Indians are controlling their economies.

  9. fleur

    August 17, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Ngozi, the Devils plan for you is in full implementation mode. At this rate you will be responding to false allegations until you’re 90 instead of generating income for yourself. In fact at this rate you may not live that long because of the stress. Here is a strategy. Create a website. Lay out all major fiscal decisions of your tenure with Jonathan. Maybe use a 100 million naira threshold. Write about how these monies were used. You know this is why we have annual reports and performance results to Congress or major funders. Since you were too busy to write annual reports in office, this is the time. I can see how that happened. You need competent staff throughout the infrastructure to pull together micro reports that sum into a big report. Given the state of nigerian workforce, may have been the equivalent of pulling your teeth. I dont know. So do a macro one now and stay ahead of this weird government sanctioned game of pointing fingers workout accurate empirical data.

  10. ikechukwu

    August 18, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    This is very simple to check out.
    The permanent secretary of the Federal ministry of Transportation
    said that 1billion dollar was borrowed for lagos-kano rail lines from
    the Chinese Exim bank. However the ministry only got 400million dollars
    he claimed. Dr Ngozi okonjo iweala, claimed otherwise, she said the loan
    they got didn’t have the Project in its scope. No problem with this..

    The questions are these? Was there a loan of 1billion dollars that was
    borrowed in which the ministry of transportation was aware of but the
    finance ministry was ignorant of? If the answer is in the negative,
    where did the ministry of transportation get the 400million dollars
    from? Was it sent by the chinese bank? If so, what informed such in light of NOI’s counter claim on how money would only be disbursed on milestones?

    There must have been a transaction before that kind of money entered into an
    account. So what transaction was it? Unless we are told that the
    400million dollars never existed. If it does exist, what gave birth to
    it?

    It is either someone is lying or just ignorant of his/her surroundings

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