The advent of the social media really placed on our hands unfolding events, even as it happens or what has happened before, we are made to reflect on it and learn from it, the social media has been a tool to reckon with in this time and one of the exposure of the medium was appreciated when the news came on board that President Muhammadu Buhari departed for China to participate in the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled to hold September 3 – 4, 2018 in Beijing.
And as part of the president’s first engagement in Beijing will be an interactive session with the Nigerian Community in China at the Nigerian Embassy.
However, during the visit, especially when the issue of taking loan emerged, the social media on its part was also agog with news of countries being held by China over the non payment of their loans over the year, a synonym of our olden days practice, which is believed to still being in vogue especially leasing out the girl child to wealthy individuals in a community when the defaulter failed to pay the loan over a period of time.
Nigeria has been able to check out loans from the Chinese government, from 2016 when the first interest in loan of $2bn was secured and fortunately $6bn was released for the Nigerian government. Early 2017, another loan of $30bn was secured from China. (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/222767-update-nigeria-secures-7-5-billion-loan-china-rail-project-amaechi.html).
In this long line of loan seeking especially from the Chinese government, the Buhari administration, this year, went again to secure a loan of $328m for the Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II (NICTIB II) project and the Mambilla Hydro-electric power project.
In all these, President Buhari was grateful to the Chinese for their support to Nigeria. When he said no country has helped our country (Nigeria) on infrastructural development like the Chinese. He added, that in some projects, the Chinese helped us witha85 percent payment and soft laons than span 20 years.
However, the fear of modern “colonization” was preempted by Nigerians over the long stalk of loans secured from the Chinese government over the years, this is not about fear of the unknown but for what has happened to other countries who have been unable to pay off loans secured from the Chinese government.
Sri Lanka hands over port to China to pay off debt. Hambantota port was signed over to Beijing on a 99-year lease because Sri Lanka cannot repay Chinese loans it took out to build the port in the first place. Sri Lanka has formally handed control of a strategic port on its southern coast to China as part of a 99-year lease agreement to pay off her debt of $1.3bn. The $1.3bn port was built with loans from a Chinese state-owned bank and opened in 2010.
But the Sri Lankan government has struggled to repay the debt, with the project incurring heavy losses. Along with loans taken out for other infrastructure development projects, Colombo now owes China a total of $8bn.
Sri Lanka, just like other countries like Djibouti, now have their harbour constituted by the Chinese government as collateral damage, Madagascar have their lands as collateral damages, for failing to pay up their debts too.
Zambia is not left out of these countries paying homage to the Chinese government, as they now have their airport and airspace (military jets included) constificated.
Ethiopia couldn’t pay back the loan, now the rail way system belongs to Chinese. Kenya now have 70% of their mineral resource mines belongs to China, because they couldn’t repay the loan.
But Muhammadu Buhari has dispelled concerns from various quarters describing the loans from the Chinese government as a “death trap”, noting that the Nigerian government would repay the loans “as and when due”.
“These vital infrastructure projects synchronize perfectly with our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. Some of the debts incurred are self-liquidating. Our country is able to re-pay loans as and when due in keeping with our policy of fiscal prudence and sound housekeeping,” he said (http://saharareporters.com/2018/09/05/nigeria-will-repay-loans-china-and-when-due-says-buhari)
Meanwhile, Amina Mohammed, a former Minister and now Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, has criticized her former employers about Nigeria’s burgeoning debt, she expressed regret that Nigeria has returned to gross indebtedness despite the debt relief she secured (with the Paris Club) in 2005.
She was giving credit to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former finance minister who played her role well in taking Nigeria out from debt but this administration has brought Nigeria back into load of debts, despite all the money recovered from all looters and money kept from thieves in the system.
I just hope our case won’t be like the countries held as hostages under the colony of the Chinese government.
Uwala, is a writer and journalist. He can be reached via: email@example.com