After allegations that $1 billion loan sourced from China-EximBank for the construction of Kano-Lagos rail project was diverted under her watch, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the former minister of finance in Nigeria, is now speaking through her media adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu, on the allegations.
Follow the jump to see what Iweala is saying about the claims:
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. 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.
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.
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.