Some Nigerians living in Hungary have written a letter to their host government not to grant a 54 million euros loan ostensibly for the study drainage work for Rivers Niger and Benue.
To the Nigerians, the loan is not only unnecessary but also another avenue for corruption as it is a product of highly inflated costs.
In the letter, dated August 30, 2017, the Nigerians whose organisation is registered in Hungary, told the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that the Ministry of Water Resources which is seeking the loan is not being run for profit, and will therefore be unable to repay the loan. In effect, the loan will either be passed to unborn generations of Nigeria to repay, or end up being written off as bad.
Worse still, the Nigerians wrote in the letter obtained by The Union online newspaper, the sum being borrowed is obscene and excessive for the stated purpose of conducting a study when the Ministry in Nigeria has engineers who can conveniently and at a much cheaper rate carry out the study.
“The anticipated project is duplication and a misplaced priority. We have Engineers at the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources. They could internally carry out whatever study that must be done with demanding for loan externally,” they wrote.
The Nigerians observe that sums allocated for the projects in the past went into private pockets, and that to date, there has been no prosecution of the persons involved.
“Hugely inflated cost of project execution, debts and corruption are the greatest challenges we have as a country today. We cannot continue to be silent when our common wealth is spirited away,” they added.
The letter is reproduced below:
The Prime Minister,
OUR PAIN AT THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AND THE 54 MILLION EURO LOAN FOR THE NIGERIAN MINISTRY OF WATER RESOURCES.
On behalf of Nigerians living in Hungary and other Nigerians in Diaspora that have expressed their grave concern on the above subject matter, we wish to use this medium to equally express our deep disapproval against the application for a loan of 54 million euro by the Nigerian government from the government of Hungary.
The government of Hungary has achieved very useful international co-operation with Nigeria for many years and they are well respected especially with the Hungaricum Stipendium Scholarship which has given opportunities to young Nigerians and other African countries to study in Hungary.
Recently, a video about this Hungarian-Nigerian loan was made public when the Nigerian Minister of Water Resources Engineer Suleiman Adamu addressed Nigerian Journalists on the issue in respect of the loan (https://youtu.be/e21EIJLdetY). This revelation has generated much anger amongst the generality of Nigerians in and outside Hungary.
Unfortunately, the publicized agreement to issue our country Nigeria with a loan of 54 million euro to ’study the drainage work at the River Niger and Benue and to check sedimentation’ in Nigeria is a sad misnomer and it is very shocking to us.
The anticipated project is duplication and a misplaced priority. We have Engineers at the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources. They could internally carry out whatever study that must be done with demanding for loan externally.
You may be surprised to know that contracts for the dredging of the River Niger and River Benue have been awarded and commenced in Nigeria. The dredging will stop flooding and provide deep water for economic activities. As part of the dredging process, a study will also be carried out. This ongoing project will overtake any other ’study’ that our Minister of Water Resources is seeking loan for.
What is the point of seeking loan for a ’study’ that will lead to a bigger project expected to stop flooding when a dredging project that will end the same flooding has already commenced? Is our Minister trying to duplicate a project that has already commenced through the financing of our government? Kindly refer to a publication in Nigeria as follows:
Nigerian Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Federal Government has awarded contract for the dredging of the critical part of River Benue. Mr. Amaechi who disclosed this at the 2017 budget defence before members of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport on Thursday 2 February 2017 in Abuja, said that work will soon commence….. The minister added that the capital dredging of the Lower River Niger from Warri to Baro, covering a distance of 572 kilometres had also commenced. (http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/222404-nigerian-govt-awards-contract-dredging-river-benue-amaechi.html)
Sir, as our country continues to fight corruption, we wish to inform you that contract for the dredging of the River Niger was awarded by the former President of Nigeria for 47 billion naira (114,634,146 euro). Out of that amount, 34billion naira (82,926,829 euro) was paid to contractors and the job was abandoned. Please confirm this through the following speech by our current Minister of Transportation as published in Nigeria:
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Thursday accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of wasting N34 billion on the dredging of the River Niger. According to The Nation Newspaper, Mr. Amaechi disclosed that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is spending N100 million on the job (243,902euro), adding that after paying a contractor N34 billion for the dredging exercise, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration failed to get the job done. The minister said this at a conference on Fast-tracking Port Reforms, hosted by The Nation newspaper in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Transportation, in Lagos.”When the River Niger was first approved for dredging by the previous administration,” Mr. Amaechi said, “it was approved for N47 billion and N34 billion was paid to the contractor. Dancers were called in and there was a party. “We are not dredging the River Niger with billions of naira; we are dredging the River Niger with just N100million. (http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/230425-river-niger-dredging-jonathan-paid-n34-billion-but-its-being-executed-by-buhari-for-n100-million-amaechi.html)
It may further interest you to know that a motion was moved in March 2017 at the Nigerian House of Representative to probe this abandoned project of the previous government. ( http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/03/river-niger-dredging-shippers-back-reps-probe-niwa-van-oord/)
The debts of Nigeria were paid by the regime of one of our former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The Paris club also cancelled our national debts of $18 billion but unfortunately, subsequent Presidents have resumed borrowing on a very frightening scale that is detrimental to the unborn generations of Nigerians.
Hugely inflated cost of project execution, debts and corruption are the greatest challenges we have as a country today. We cannot continue to be silent when our common wealth is spirited away.
Our foreign reserves drastically fell during the previous government and many cases of corruption are currently in the Nigerian courts. These are related to the diversion of public funds originally intended for building infrastructures and improving the welfare of our people.
You may be aware that some of our politicians have escaped from Nigeria as a result of their theft of our national wealth while the country continue to struggle for the return of stolen monies hidden in foreign banks.
It is a grave irony that our country intends to borrow this amount of money from Hungary at a period when our current President Mohammadu Buhari is busy fighting corruption and various societal ills.
As a result of climate change, the Danube and the Tisza Basin of Hungary have exhibited signs of increasing risks reaching flood peak levels and there are possibilities that Hungary will experience flooding in the future just as it has done in the recent past.
It is our opinion and humble submission that money set aside as loan to Nigeria for this ’study’ should be reserved to address flooding problems in Hungary because we do not trust the accountablity of our politicians to judiciously manage such funds. Nigeria is currently passing through a critical period where the country is experiencing a severe economic recession that is strange to us as a people. The current economic recession was caused by the gross misuse of public fund and debt servicing.
Capital spending in the the 2017 National budget of the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources is N85 billion which is around 215 million euro. Part of that budget is for consulting and professional services. They should use that amount for whatever ’study’ they wish to do. Nigeria with a population of about 180 million people continue to witness her vibrant youths relocate to other countries as economic migrants and refugees despite our monumental wealth. Many have drowned in the Mediterranean sea in various risky attempts to reach Europe in search of greener pastures.
Some challenges Hungary recently fought against irregular migration is as a result of the lopsided leadership of some countries that have failed to provide basic needs for their citizenry despite their wealth. Nigeria is one of them. Sadly, the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR has reported that Nigeria accounts for 14.8% of ’most common nationalities of Mediterranean sea arrivals from January 2017’. (https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/mediterranean).
It is a national embarrassment that this percentage is the highest amongst other countries. Hungary cannot succeed in fighting irregular migration if you offer loans for projects of this nature that will not directly improve the well being of Nigerians. This is a project that Nigeria can fully handle without seeking external financial aid or support.
There are other viable projects that Hungary could invest in Nigeria without giving out a loan for it. Electricity and other forms of power generation is one of such projects.
Nigeria should be advised to prudently manage her economy the way Hungarians have managed theirs over the years. This is what our foreign partners should be assisting us to do. Our people will not make physical and economic progress if our government continue to solicit for aids and loans all over the world while our people continue to be impoverished in the midst of vast natural and human capital resources.
The promise of Change was the promise that brought the present government of Nigeria into power and Nigerians are very expectant about this.
Nigeria is one of the most endowed countries in the world and our government need to improve on its leadership responsibilities instead of embarrassing us with continuing borrowing which are usually not transformed into visible developments.
Presently the Eastern and Western regions of our country are strongly agitating for secession from Nigeria while other parts are agitating for the restructuring of the country. There are also violent agitations in the Niger Delta oil-producing area of the country for self governance. These agitations are due to the fact that Nigerians are currently very unhappy and have become disenchanted at the way our economy has been terribly managed since the independence of 1960. The North eastern part of the country has been terrorized for about a decade as a result of the agitation by Islamic extremists which has killed thousands of Nigerians and rendered over 100,000 persons internally displaced.
We know that 54 million euro can equip our army to end terrorism in Nigeria. That amount of money could conveniently settle internally displaced persons in Nigeria. It could also be used to build schools for some children who are learning under deplorable class room conditions. Kazaure local government of Jigawa State which is the birth place of our Minister for Water Resources is equally in serious need of social and economic development.
54 million euro could provide steady electricity to some parts of Nigeria. It could even be used in upgrading some of our hospitals to the standard of some hospitals in Hungary thereby discouraging our politicians from seeking medical treatments abroad.
Sir, we ask that you cancel this loan and assist Nigeria in any other way you may deem necessary. For the sake of our generation and those coming after us, please do not support any intention by the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources to further severe the thin thread that currently hold us together as a country. Nigerians are already very provoked by the desire to receive this loan from Hungary.
The circumstances and the amount quoted in this loan is very questionable and we believe that its use will equally be questionable and bereft of transparency. You may wonder why the Ministry did not include the cost of this study in the 2017 budget of Nigeria! Our country is not as poor as some of our leaders want foreign donors and partners to believe. What some of our leaders need is simply to improve on the efficient and prudent management of our vast resources.
Hungary may have a good intention about this project and we are also aware that it will be of economic benefit to Hungary, but we know that the intentions from the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources fall below the expectations of Nigerians and some Hungarians that are already aware about this. This loan will further widen the poverty level of Nigerians on the long run.
In addition, please be informed that the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources is no longer an income generating Ministry. Water supply to Nigerians has been sabotaged and the supply of water is now mostly operated by private individuals through the use of boreholes installed in their respective homes and business premises. Kindly confirm this from your embassy in Nigeria. With this situation, it is almost impossible for that loan to be re-paid to your country since there is little or no income generated by the Ministry that is seeking this loan from you.
The delay in paying back the loan to you could attract increased interest rate which will further burden the Nigerian people. It may even get to a point where you may decide to write off the debt as other countries have done in the past. In the long run, this will amount to economic loss to the people of Hungary.
It is our agreed position as an association of Nigerians living in Hungary and registered with the government of Hungary, to request and to state, through the facts mentioned herein, that the government of Hungary should NOT continue with her desire to grant this loan to our country Nigeria. Any agreement related to this loan should kindly be cancelled for the long term benefit of Nigerians and Hungarians.
The Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources could send their engineers to learn whatever they wish to learn in Hungary, if necessary. If 54 million euro would be spent on studying ways to ‘safeguard the bank o the river’, as drainage mechanism to stop flooding, and the reports of this study will end as report written on paper, who much will be spent of the actual physical project against flooding, if indeed there will be a project like that? We have stated here that the dredging project that will regulate drainage and end flooding has already commenced.
We are deeply worried that the cost of this project is baseless and we are not fully convinced that the request for this loan is justified. Our minister is in position to explain how the loan for this study is different from what the Nigerian government is already doing.
We are optimistic that you will neither support any action that will increase corruption in our country nor increase the poverty level.
We are equally optimistic that you will use your respected office to take immediate actions that will cancel this anticipated loan. Nigeria is too rich to be presented as this poor.
Frederick Omoyoma Odorige, President
Dr. Aderemi Baderinwa, Vice President
Usoegbu Nnamdi Haskey, General Secretary
Engr. Nnorom Udeagha Ndubisi, Treasurer
Francis Oyeyele, PRO 1
Augustine Oladipupo Ojo, PRO 2
Dolapo Ade-Alabi, PRO 3
Nnabu Monday Meshach, PRO 4
Opara Ugomma Favour, Financial Secretary
Felix Yellowe, Provost
Stanley Okoro, Social/Cultural Officer
Esther Aruwa, Assistant Social/Cultural Officer
János Áder, President, Hungary.
László Kövér, Speaker, Hungarian Parliament, Hungary.
Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dr Olubukola Abubakar Saraki, Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Misitura Abdulraheem, Chargé d’ Affaires, Nigerian embassy, Hungary
The Hungarian Media
The Nigerian Media
Budapest 2017. 07. 30
Source: The Union Online