China cannot dictate Nigeria’s economy ― Hon Ikpeazu

Co-Chairman of the national assembly joint session on budget defence for the ministry of Transport, Linda Ikpeazu has said the Chinese government cannot dictate Nigeria’s economic relationship with the government of Taiwan.

The lawmaker’s position was a reaction to insinuation by the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, that the Chinese government was not comfortable with Nigeria seeking economic partnership with the government of Taiwan to fund the eastern railway line.

Ikpeazu said this at the joint session of the national assembly joint committee of the Senate on Marine Transport, and House of Representatives on Ports and Harbour, Inland Waterways, and Maritime Safety, Education and Administration told the Minister to seek more information on how to explore more funding opportunity for benefit of Nigeria.

“You are looking for ways to source for the fund because without fund you cannot do much. I am actually glad to hear that you are trying Russia, Another country you should also try is Taiwan. They are ready, Taiwan is ready,

“What China is saying has to do with the two-party system. What China is saying is that you should not have diplomatic relationships, it did not say or hasn’t said trade relations.

“It is something you might need to explore, we are looking for money to develop our country. so you will not say China said, then let them provide the money.

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“There is a way America has a relationship with Taiwan and they still have relationship with China. A lot of countries have that, they still have a trade relationship with Taiwan, what they do not have is consulate.

“Maybe this is something you may need better information, I think it is something you might need to explore.”

The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi had explained to the committee that lack of funding was responsible for the completion of the rail project which President Muhammadu Buhari believed was part of the critical infrastructure needed to boost the economy.

Amaechi said the nation needed the cumulative amount of $34 billion to complete the major national rail routes covering Lagos to Kano ($8.7), Lagos Calabar ($11.1)  and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri (14.2) Lagos Kano route which has more promise of faster return on investment because feasibility studies revealed it will be transporting about 30, 000 tons of cargo on that route.

He noted that the Chinese government was prepared to fund the Lagos Ibadan axis while the federal government was exploring another opportunity with the Russian government which was favourably disposed to funding one of the routes.

Speaking on the performance of the 2019 budget of the ministry of transport, The Minister said the total capital appropriation for Marine transportation sector for the 2019 fiscal year was N411,535,850.00 out of which N259,403,440.00 representing 63 per cent release.

He said the ministry proposed for a total capital budget of N748, 296, 254 for the marine sector and overhead of N358,800,000 for the whole sector of the ministry in 2020 budget before the national assembly for its purview.

The co-committee chairman, Senator Danjuma Goje assured the said the Senate would support the ministry to meet its objective as it was the desire of all committee members want to see the rail working for Nigerian masses to benefit.

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