Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that no money was diverted from the $1billion loan obtained from the China-Exim Bank by the Jonathan administration.
She stated that 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.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala explained that it was the Lagos–Ibadan rail project, not Lagos-Kano rail project that was proposed in the original application to the China-Exim Bank. “But in the end, no funds were assigned for the Lagos-Ibadan rail project by the China-Exim Bank.”
Describing the allegation as untrue, she said “China-EximBank keeps and disburses funds for approved projects to contractors based on milestones; funds are not domiciled with Finance Ministry”.
A statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the Media Adviser to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mr. Paul C. Nwabuikwu said:
“The fact which can be confirmed is that the following projects which are at various stages of progress are being funded from facilities obtained from the China-Exim Bank: $500m for the expansion of four International Airport Terminals in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt. $500m for the Abuja Light Rail project; $984m for the Zungeru Hydro-electric power project; $100m for the Galaxy Backbone project.
“It is also important to note that even if the alleged project was on the list of China-Exim Bank 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-Exim Bank 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-Exim Bank does not disburse money directly to government and therefore the issue of diversion does not arise.
“This is yet another example of the kind of whispering campaign of calumny, innuendo, misinformation, and outright distortions being perpetrated by certain political elements against Dr. Okonjo-Iweala in a bid to try to damage her reputation. We are confident that those behind this campaign will continue to fail.
“I want to state categorically that there is no truth in the reported allegation. Anyone who is interested can cross-check with the China-Exim Bank or the Chinese Embassy.”