China’s ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun has assured the federal government that the cancellation of Addax Petroleum’s licences will not mar the Asian nation’s relations with the West African country.
The Chinese ambassador gave the assurance when he visited Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva in Abuja on Thursday.
“The two top officials agreed on excellent relations that exist between their two countries and expressed the need to deepen partnership,” read a statement from the special adviser to the minister, Garba Mohammad.
“Among other issues, they both agreed that the recent revocation of some OMLs held by Addax was purely a commercial decision and will not have any impact on the excellent relationship between the two countries.”
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had on March 30 revoked the oil mining licences (OMLs) 123, 124, 126 and 137 held by Addax Petroleum, a firm owned by China’s Sinopec Group.
DPR’s move was due to the below-par development of the assets. The agency said more than 50 percent of the assets were undeveloped, a situation it said had cost a revenue leakage to the government.
But Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, restored ownership of the OMLs to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Addax Petroleum. The NNPC is operating the licences with the company through a production sharing contract.
A member of the House of Representatives, Mr Ben Ibakpa has claimed some Nigerian officials signed loan documents from China written in the Chinese language.
Mr Ibakpa said this on Thursday when he appeared on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, claiming that the National Assembly is not carried along when the country takes loans from China.
He claimed that some Nigerian officials do not critically look into the loan documents before signing, adding that, “Some of these documents come in the Chinese language”
According to the member representing Ethiope Federal Constituency, the National Assembly has been kept in the dark before now concerning the Chinese loans.
“The National Assembly is kept in the dark in all these loans. The National Assembly is not part of it. Even the Bureau for Public Procurement is not aware of these loans.
“These loans are collected via the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). They bring a bill, the Federal executive approves the bill,” the lawmaker said.
He said the present administration, having campaigned with an anti-corruption mantra, should do better in checking these loans as corruption is fueled by awarding of contracts.
While admitting that the National Assembly may not have done the right thing over the years, he added that whatever has been done in the past that it is not correct, needs to be corrected.
Speaking concerning the 2020 budget, Ibakpa said little is known about how the money is being spent.
“We are talking about over N2 trillion appropriated for debt servicing. We appropriate and we don’t know how this money is being spent. That is why we need to look into what has been happening since 2002.”