Buhari seeks loan to satisfy Niger Republic with rail line from Kano to Maradi.

A saying of life is that you do not burrow to help a friend, you render help within your capacity but the Buhari administration does not buy that saying as a standard gauge rail being planned from Kano State in Nigeria to Maradi in Niger Republic is one of the projects the administration plans to fund with the fresh external loans he is asking the National Assembly to approve for his regime at the detriment of future generations that will pay back the loan.

Several Nigerians had protested the project when his Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi first announced it and was asked how the funding will be done.

Buhari had asked the National Assembly to approve fresh external loans of $4.054bn and €710m ($839m) for his regime.

He also sought the legislature’s approval for grant components of $125m in the 2018-2020 external rolling borrowing plans.

These were contained in a letter addressed to both chambers of the National Assembly and read on the floor at the resumption of plenary by the presiding officers Messrs Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila (Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives respectively) on Tuesday.

Buhari, in the letter, dated August 24, 2021, explained that the projects listed in the 2018-2021 Federal Government Borrowing Plan would be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, EXIM Bank International Fund for Agricultural Development, Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chattered/China Export and Credit in the total sum of $4,054,476,863 and €710m (839m) and grant components of $125m.

According to the President, summary of some key projects in each of the six geopolitical zones that will be funded by the loans and a summary on the expected impacts on the socioeconomic development of each of the six geopolitical zones were attached to the letter.

According to the breakdown obtained exclusively by one of our correspondents from the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, five international bodies will jointly provide the $4,054,476,863 component of the loan.

They include the World Bank -$3,250,000,000; China Exim Bank -$225,120,000; IFAD- $50,000,000; European ECA/KfW/IPEX/APC -$190,255,276; Bank of China -$276,981,587; and Standard Chartered Bank/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) -$62,120,000.

The Euro component of €710m will be provided by AFD -€210,000,00 and Credit Sussie Group €500,000,000 while the World Bank will provide the grant components of $125m.

According to the document, the $190,255,276 to be provided by European ECA/KfW/IPEX/APC will be spent on the Nigeria to Niger Republic rail line.

The document gave the project title as “Kano-Maradi SGR with branch to Dutse” and identified the implementing MDA as the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

“Financing cost which the lender requested to be capitalised” was written under the column for multilateral institution.

On the expected impact of the project on the geo-political development, the Federal Government wrote, “The project is to link Nigeria with Niger Republic from Kano-Katsina-Daura-Jibiya-Maradi with branch to Dutse.

“It is part of the Trans-Africa Railway System and it is expected to improve the international trade between Nigeria, Niger and other North-Africa countries.”

Also, the $225,120,000 to be provided by China Exim Bank is expected to be spent on the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Project.

It is meant to cater for the construction of the branch line (Apapa-Tin Can Island Port) project.

On the impact of the project, the Federal Government said, “The project is to provide an alignment of routes from the Apapa Port Terminal to Tin Can Island Port and to enhance the economic activities at the Apapa and tin Can Island Ports.”

The $50,000,000 to be provided by IFAD will be spent on what the government called Value Chain Development Programme -Additional Financing II.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has described as worrisome, the rate at which the regime of the President, has been borrowing foreign loans to fund budget deficits.

He also faulted the speed with which the federal parliament approves such loans whenever the requests were sent by the President.

Ndume at a news conference on Thursday, expressed dismay at the speed with which the nation’s Parliament has been approving the loans.

He said, “Honestly, I’m not an expert in debt analysis. You have the debt management office there.

“However, the rate of our borrowing is increasing and is worrisome. But it is not the borrowing that is the problem as I always say, it is what you do with what you borrow.

“It is not wrong, for example, to borrow money from the bank with some reasonable interest to buy a car, especially when you have a family – wife and children to take to school, and you plan to repay gradually with your salary. It is fine, because you cannot afford the money to buy the car on your own.

“Borrowing in that situation, becomes a necessity. But, when you borrow and you cannot buy fuel, then you keep borrowing to buy fuel, and you give the car as collateral to collect fuel… I don’t support that…

“It is not the borrowing. And this request for loans that the President sent to the National Assembly is part of the approved external borrowing plan but as I said… I am just very careful.”

“You guys should look at what the borrowing is for in the first place. Is it necessary? Are the terms good? Borrowing is not a crime except when the rate of debt servicing increases. I understand it’s getting to 80, 90 per cent.. You have to be cautious. You have to look at alternatives.

“There are certain borrowings that are just absolutely necessary, there are some that are not necessary. There are some that can be delayed. There are some that the terms can be negotiated or renegotiated.”





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