The Chinese Government has offered Nigeria $4.5billion loan for the procurement of strategic machinery needed to boost agricultural development in the country.
The loan has a repayment period of 20 years with 5 years moratorium and an interest rate of one percent per annum.
Nigeria’s foreign debt increased to 11406.28 USD Million in the fourth quarter of 2016 from 11261.89 USD Million in the third quarter of 2016. Zamfara State governor, Abdulazeez Yari, and the Minister of Agricultural Resources, Audu Ogbeh disclosed this while briefingjournalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Both said they had the approval of the President to engage with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Central Bank of Nigeria to sort out the technical details.
The loan offer is part of negotiations held to deal with the procurement of needed machinery for agricultural development in all states of the federation when the president visited China last year, the Zamfara governor said.
Explaining further he said “They are giving us a credit line of $4.5billion which will cover the machinery and infrastructure that is rural earth dams, irrigation, and the loan has a 20 years repayment term with 5 years moratorium.
“Understanding the economy of Nigeria, we negotiated to give a counterpart funding of 10 percent which we believe Nigeria can do and we are targeting the natural resources fund from the counterpart funding,” he said.
He said discussions are already being held with the Chinese group, the Nigerian governors and the technical committee that was set up by the minister and the ministry of agriculture and rural development.
The governor said they had come to see the President because they had come to the point where they needed his approval to move to the next level of negotiations.
“So we are making a huge progress with this partnership and realize that China is coming first to support this country.The president has given us his commitment and also asked us to engage the minister of
finance, budget and national planning and the CBN to conclude and then the minister of agric will make a presentation to council, then to the national assembly for final approval” the governor said.
According to the minister, an agreement which engages all the states including FCT was signed from the Federal Ministry of Agric for the procurement of strategic machinery for rural development and agriculture. Tractors, bulldozers, graders, irrigation pumps, trailers 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 1 percent per annum. A committee has been working on the matter and we are close to sorting out all the small details and that is why we came to see the President” he said.
Stating that the Chinese have shown a willingness to help Nigeria because they were in the same situation 30 years ago the minister added that the Chinese government have also indicated a willingness to accept agricultural produce like grains amongst others, as payment.
He added that the President has asked them to get in touch with the ministry of budget and planning, finance and CBN to sort out all the technical details and move on with it.
The governor also used the opportunity to throw light on the controversies surrounding the Paris Club refund stating that there were issues as was being whipped up.
He noted that it was an issue was mainly with the verification of consultants and all will be sorted soon. “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” he said.
The truth, however, is that the London-Paris club refund “has helped this economy, those in the state knows about it, we were able to pay salaries during the Christmas and new year and we were able to do so many things”.