•‘We’ve no issues with EFCC over Paris Club refund’
Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Chairman and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari said yesterday that China has offered to give a loan of $4.5 billion to Nigeria for farm machinery and others.
He said the loan will also tackle lack of agric infrastructure, including rural earth dams and irrigation.
The governor added that the credit facility has a 20-year repayment term with five years moratorium.
Yari spoke with State House correspondents at the end of a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari with Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh.
He said he was in the Villa with the minister to brief the President on the support coming from the Chinese government.
The governor said: “Following the visit of Mr. President sometime last year, we engaged the Chinese government and they showed some willingness to support Nigeria in this discussion.
“Chinese Government Organisation Company in cooperation with the People’s Bank of China and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture under the leadership of the honourable minister, they are giving us a credit line of $4.5 billion, which will cover the machinery and infrastructure, that is rural earth dams, irrigation and the loan has a 20-year repayment term with five years moratorium.
“Initially, we started negotiations to drop a counterpart funding of 25 per cent. But understanding the economy of Nigeria, we negotiated to give a counterpart funding of 10 per cent, which we believe Nigeria can do and we are targeting the natural resources fund from the counterpart funding.”
He said there is ongoing discussion among the Chinese group, the governors, the technical committee that was set up by the minister and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
He insisted that the forum has no issues with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the Paris Club refund.
According to him, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has explained the aspect for consultancy.
He said the refund has gone a long way to ease the problems of state governments.
Yari said: “There is no issue with the refund. The issue is with consultancy, which I think the Minister of Finance made clear.
“Some wrote a petition that they have not been paid and mind you, we have not even started paying fully because we have to ascertain who worked for who. As I am talking to you, we have a lot of litigations. Someone says he worked for so and so years for this state and that state. We are taking a decision on that.”
The minister said: “We came to brief the President on developments following our visit to China in April last year and our negotiations on a number of issues to deal with machinery for agricultural development.
“We signed an agreement, which engages all the states, including the FCT for the procurement of strategic machinery for rural development and agriculture, tractors, bulldozers, graders, irrigation pumps, tarsiers and so on from China.
“The Chinese were willing to supply us these things for a long term basis, 20 years credit at an interest rate of one per cent per annum.”