HURIWA warns FG against collecting $600m loan for satellites

Posted by News Express | 18 February 2016 | 3,004 times

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A civil rights body, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (Huriwa) has cautioned the Federal Government to halt any plan to seek for foreign credit facility to the tune of $600 million for the purpose of launching satellites in the orbits by the year 2018.

The rights group which criticized government for going cap in hand to the international community for loan facility of such a humongous amount of money for the satellite project said the previous initiatives undertaken by the successive federal administrations beginning with the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo –led administration have yielded almost no tangible benefits to the living conditions of Nigerians just as the country has spectacularly failed to make commercial profits by way of getting other African nations to commission Nigeria to undertake scientific research making use of the previously launched satellite at serious costs to the citizenry.

According to HURIWA in a media statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, “the current practice of the government scouting around for credit facilities to embark on white elephant projects is detrimental to our economic sovereignty because the debts are capable of enslaving our generations yet unborn more so when what the credit facilities are to be used for lacks commercial viability.”

HURIWA wrote thus: “As an organization made up of persons with creative entrepreneurial talents we fully appreciate the enormous gains of embarking on space technology. We are aware that many common everyday services such as weather forecasting, remote sensing, GPS systems, satellite television and some long distance communications systems critically rely on space infrastructure. But we are worried that those who have over the years sat on the administrative hierarchy of the Nigerian communications satellite (NIGCOMSAT) and officials manning the nation's Space Technology Research Institute have severally failed the transparency and accountability test. How come the country is yet to fully benefit commercially from the previous effort at launching about five satellites on the orbit but here we are again playing with the dangerous idea of borrowing so much from China to commission the same China to assist us launch these satellites?”

HURIWA said it read with considerable consternation and shock that the Nigerian government is seeking $600 million loan for two prospective satellite project.

HURIWA recalled that the Minister of Communications Technology, Adebayo Shittu, who disclosed this after an inspection of facilities at the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited in Abuja stated that two foreign companies, including the Chinese Exim Bank are willing to assist the country fund these new projects, adding that once government secures the fund before the next two years, “we will have these satellites in orbit.”

He said: “To have an extra satellite, you will be talking of about $300 million, we are looking for that. Certainly if we can get enough funding for two satellites, I will prefer that. Two foreign companies including the China Exim Bank are willing to assist us fund this new projects.”

The Rights group said that borrowing from China or any multilateral funding agency a long or short term loans to prosecute satellite project that Nigeria wouldn't utilise to raise our revenue profile or even developed our indigenous Space Technology is as good as investing in capital flight which would benefit only foreign jurisdictions.

HURIWA recalled that the National Space Research and Development Agency of Nigeria (NASRDA) said it has launched five satellites so far into outer space.

The Nigeriasat -1 was the first Nigerian satellite and built by a United Kingdom based satellite technology company- Survey Space Technology Limited (SSTL LTD) under the Nigerian government sponsorship for $30 million.

•Photo shows Minister of Communications Technology, Adebayo Shittu.

Source: News Express

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