Galaxy Backbone Limited has debunked the claims by the House of Representatives, which raised alarm over some clauses in Article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China, which allegedly “wills the sovereignty of Nigeria” in the $400 million loan for the Galaxy Backbone’s Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB) Phase II Project, signed in 2018.
The Chairman, House Committee on Treaties and Agreements, Mr Ossai Nicholas Ossai observed during an investigative hearing into some of the agreements signed between Nigeria and China, where the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi responded to various questions on the ongoing modernisation of railway projects being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Transport.
According to the agreement, which was signed by Federal Ministry of Finance (Borrower) on behalf of Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China (Lender) on September 5, 2018, Article 8(1) of the agreement, provides that: “The Borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic assets.”
Ossai said: “I have also seen from the Ministry of Communications where Nigeria signed off some certain level of its sovereignty if part of the clauses is breached? So, when the National Assembly reacts in this manner, to question some level of agreements being entered into by any ministry of this country with any other nation, we have every right to question that because anything that is going to happen will happen to our generations unborn. Whether we get it from China or not is immaterial.
“The most important thing is that we must save and protect our people as regards agreements, because most of the agreements that have been signed, the National Assembly has no knowledge (of them). Even the details embedded in those agreements are not forwarded to you when demanding counterpart funding.
“You don’t have the details, clause by clause, in line with the Act that established DMO. We need to know those details even before going to sign such agreements. But those details are not provided to the parliament. So, we have the right to question them.”
But reacting to the reports in the media, GBB said the report was not only misleading to the reading public but was never a true reflection of the deliberations in the session that Galaxy Backbone had with the Committee on Treaties, Protocol and Agreements.
In a press issued by Galaxy Backbone (GBB), the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Professor Muhammad Abubakar said that NICTIB Phase II project is a sovereign loan of National scope and for National Infrastructural development in the area of ICT National Broadband between the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning) and China Exim Bank, representing the Republic of China.
According to him, Galaxy Backbone is only an implementing agency under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to oversee the full implementation of this project.
“It is important to note that the NICTIB Phase II project is one of the projects in the National Borrowing Plan recently approved by the National Assembly and is yet to commence. It is therefore unlikely and out of place to have insinuation that the National Assembly will raise such allegations.
“Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives has through its Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, which is currently reviewing the nation’s loan agreements with nations across the world, on July 28, invited the Federal Ministry of Communications & Digital Economy (Supervisors of Galaxy Backbone, the implementing agency) to discuss the loan agreements in respect of NICTIB phase II and its project implementation. In the about 30 minutes engagement between Galaxy Backbone and the House Committee members, the issue of clauses in loan agreement and their potential implications for the Nigerian sovereignty never came up for discussion.
“The Committee requested for and received updates on the loan bothering on the amount involved, maturity date and counterpart funding.
“The attributable loan agreement on NICTIB Phase II, like any other sovereign loan is packaged by relevant and capable legal authorities/institutions of Nigeria which, definitely, isn’t Galaxy Backbone.
“Galaxy Backbone as the technology implementing agency of NICTIB Phase II loan and Nigeria ICT Broadband facilitator for national development is committed to the full implementation of the NICTIB phase II project which at its completion, will deepen the broadband penetration in Nigeria and improve the internet and network communications experience of not just agencies of government, but of the entire nation,” the statement reads.
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