1960 – Independence declared by Upper Volta Upper Volta—now Burkina Faso (which means “Land of Incorruptible People”), a landlocked country in western Africa—proclaimed its independence on this day in 1960, ending more than 60 years of French rule.
In the ethnic tradition of Anglo-Saxons, the “patter songs” of Gilbert and Sullivan have been the equivalent of contemporary rap music. Learning the repertoire was part of the expected rites of passage and, in the 1960s, I did my duty, even attaining to the heights of playing Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, a baronet disguised as young …
[CHD Note: This is Part Three of a four-part series. In Parts One and Two I outline the case for the terrain being the most important consideration when it comes to outcomes from infectious diseases. The terrain represents the health of the individual, their nutritional status, their environmental exposures and surroundings, their access to clean water, personal and public hygiene, etc.]
Enter the spin zone
In the media coverage surrounding COVID-19, why are we hearing nothing about what each individual can do FOR THEMSELVES nutritionally in an effort to build their immune competency to resist and overcome infection?
Why is the narrative all about how the pharmaceutical industry is going to “SAVE” us?
Could it have something to do with the fact that the pharma-controlled media wants to convince us that we must spend billions of dollars and wait for big pharma to come to the rescue with new, expensive, proprietary and patented anti-viral drugs and a magical vaccine to rescue us from COVID-19 therefore “allowing” us to return to normal life?
I’m not even saying that it’s only nutritional options and natural alternatives that are being shunned.
Even inexpensive, easy to access drugs like Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin with zinc are being played down, despite studies from around the world showing it’s efficacy.
And, with a history of use for over 60 years in millions of people, it has proven to have an excellent safety record as compared to many other pharmaceutical drugs.
A course of treatment is under $30 compared to Remdesivir, which costs more than $3,000. You can be sure that the antiviral drugs being developed for COVID-19 will probably exceed that cost.
Let’s be honest; inexpensive, safe drugs or natural alternatives like herbal or nutritional compounds won’t provide pharma with the big payday they are banking on from COVID-19.
They are opportunists, and you can bet they are going to make the most out of this opportunity.
Opportunistic organisms in biology are those parasites, bacteria, fungi, yeasts and viruses that take advantage of a weak host that offers them a ripe terrain for infection.
These pharma opportunists are getting our government to fund the development and production of these drugs and vaccines to the tune of billions of dollars….AND they will potentially reap hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from the sales (all underwritten by each of us taxpayers).
No investment and all profit served up in a liability free environment!
Can you think of a better business model and financial windfall scenario for them?
In the meantime, as the powers that be, drag their feet on making these inexpensive treatments available to sick patients because they have something better on the horizon, thousands of people are dying. Many unnecessarily.
And, since scientists have already said that the virus can and will mutate, the magical vaccine that we have all paid for and millions are relying on, will most likely be largely ineffective in a best-case scenario and outright deadly in a worst-case scenario.
Another legitimate concern would be the vaccine’s role in the development of future long-term chronic disease.
A similar situation plays out every year with the flu vaccine and its miserable rate of effectiveness, because guessing which strains will be prevalent the next season to incorporate into the vaccine is a roll of the dice.
Three decades of attempts to make a coronavirus vaccine have been a miserable failure, resulting in what is called “pathogenic priming” or sometimes referred to as “immune enhancement”, which is a paradoxical response.
This is where a vaccinated person, after later being exposed to the same virus has the risk of acquiring an extremely exaggerated immune reaction.
This is something many top scientists and doctors in the vaccine field are warning against.
It is not a great scenario when they are bragging about how fast they can get these vaccines to market and taking shortcuts in the safety studies like animal safety studies, followed by long-term human trials to make it happen.
Quick to market with a shell-shocked public waiting anxiously for your product. Jackpot!
The scientific basis for nutritional effectiveness
There are thousands of studies published that demonstrate effectiveness of various natural compounds in preventing and treating viral infections.
They do that in numerous ways, but the two overarching strategies is first to prime or boost the body’s own ability to attack and destroy the pathological microbes and second, to block key biochemical pathways that the virus needs to enter the cell and proliferate. In COVID-19’s case, these pathways into the cell are called the ACE-2 receptors.
The cells lining the lungs and airways are particularly rich in these receptors making the lungs a receptive target for COVID-19. Nutritional compounds can also effectively manage the high levels of inflammation and collateral damage caused by the infection, which is one of the main reasons the COVID-19 infection can reach catastrophic levels and, in some cases becomes fatal.
Many reports have discussed a phenomenon that can occur called a “cytokine storm”, which is an example of an out of control inflammatory immune reaction throughout the body.
Incidentally, the cytokine storm phenomenon is not new or unique to COVID-19. The literature is replete with studies discussing it in relationship to severe influenza as well.
One example of a nutritional superhero is glutathione. Glutathione the body’s “Master Antioxidant”, is essential for successfully fighting infection and mitigating the damaging effects of the production of oxidative free radicals that are released during infection.
These oxidative radicals wreak havoc on the body if glutathione is in short supply. These oxidative free-radicals are now implicated in the cause of the cytokine storm that often results in the loss of life from COVID-19.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can boost your own glutathione levels. Therefore, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress naturally not only decreases the severity of the infection and risk of death, but also the long-term health altering after-effects post infection.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine or N.A.C., is another important and related compound. Studies have also shown that taking N.A.C. will not only help boost glutathione levels but may also help to prevent the formation of what is called von Willebrand Factor, an agent that is responsible for the blood clotting problems that frequently develops in COVID-19 patients.
The incredible partnership between the miraculous human immune system and nature
The biochemistry of how the intelligence of the body operates is truly remarkable. And the immune system is a symphony of players that when all working properly and in concert, make beautiful music together.
Beautiful unless you are a pathogen. When working in harmony, the different players in the immune system are truly a formidable force to be reckoned with. They seek, identify and destroy the intruder.
Rather than using a drug that often has risks of side effects to “kill” the infection, this approach fortifies and builds the body’s own defenses and mechanisms to fight the offending microbe and then clean up the mess and debris afterwards.
This includes upregulating white blood cells and immune regulatory players like macrophages, natural killer cells (NK cells), neutrophils and monocytes.
As an example, vitamin C greatly increases numbers, activity and effectiveness of macrophages, NK cells, neutrophils and monocytes. Human beings can’t make our own, so we have to get it from diet and supplementation.
Vitamin C demands increase substantially during times of stress, injury and infection.
Therefore, it is essential to meet those demands with increased consumption when you want your immune system to work at it’s best.
Another example of key players during infection are cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that act as cell signaling agents.
Some cytokines are pro-inflammatory, and some are anti-inflammatory in action.
Some pro-inflammatory response is necessary and appropriate during infection, but it needs to be kept in check to prevent raging inflammation or even an autoimmune shift causing the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues.
Various natural compounds are shown to regulate these processes and keep them in balance, preventing damaging downstream effects. Those compounds include fish oil, curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric), vitamin D, resveratrol and quercetin among others.
We will look further into the way the immune system combats infection and ways to optimize its function in the final segment of this four-part series.
As mass murder Dr. Anthony Fauci continues to appear in the corporate media to attack the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which thousands of doctors have now said can completely cure COVID, more doctors are coming forward to expose his lies.
Fauci publicly attacked a recent positive study about HCQ published by the Henry Ford Health System, prompting two of the leading doctors of the study, doctors Adnan Munkarah and Steven Kalkanis, to publish an “Open Letter” refuting the lies of the mass murderer, Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Munkarah works as the chief clinical officer of the Henry Ford Health System, and Dr. Kalkanis works as the chief academic officer. Here is an excerpt:
We want to point out that scientific debate is a common occurrence with almost every published study. In part, this is what fuels the advancement of knowledge – challenging one another on our assumptions, conclusions and applications to get to a better place for the patients we collectively serve. You can read the original study here and the senior author’s letter to the editor here.
Unfortunately, the political climate that has persisted has made any objective discussion about this drug impossible, and we are deeply saddened by this turn of events. Our goal as scientists has solely been to report validated findings and allow the science to speak for itself, regardless of political considerations.
To that end, we have made the heartfelt decision to have no further comment about this outside the medical community – staying focused on our core mission in the interest of our patients, our community, and our commitment to clinical and academic integrity. (Full letter here.)
Fauci’s main complaint about their study is that it was not a “double-blind, randomized clinical trial,” which is considered the “Gold Standard.”
This is an interesting criticism, since almost all of the current new medical products being fast-tracked by the FDA to treat COVID, are also not “double-blind, randomized clinical trials.”
This is especially true for the COVID vaccine drug trials, which do not even use a true placebo, but instead usually use another vaccine known for serious side effects, to make the new COVID vaccine appear to be more safe.
Peter R. Breggin, MD
Another doctor who has come forward to criticize Fauci is Peter R. Breggin, MD, who published an article yesterday (August 3, 2020) titled:
Science! We have been told that science must be relied upon to make our decisions when dealing with the pandemic called COVID-19. We must in effect bow down to science, no matter how humiliating and painful it may feel.
But science has an Achilles heel—a fatal flaw that can completely ruin it and frequently does.
What is the fatal flaw of science? It is conducted by human beings. Science is only as dependable as the people who conduct and disseminate it. The adage for judging opinions still holds true—consider the source!
When Anthony Fauci announced the rollout of his initial clinical trial for remdesivir as the great hope for knocking out the coronavirus epidemic, he boasted about the clinical trial’s importance: “A randomized, placebo-controlled trial is the gold standard for determining if an experimental treatment can benefit patients.”
Since controlled clinical trials involving drugs and vaccines are very expensive, require access to sick and often highly infectious patients, and must be approved by the Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and the FDA—they can only be conducted with funding from Big Pharma and Big Government or occasional other large institutions. We will see that the tragic result of this hegemony was remarkably demonstrated in Fauci’s government trial on behalf of his favorite drug company, Gilead.
Meanwhile, the People’s Drug Is Running Ahead
As we have documented in earlier reports, here and here and on our Coronavirus Resource Center, hydroxychloroquine and zinc as a prophylactic, and hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin and zinc for patients developing COVID-19 could right now greatly improve the treatment of patients in the US, as it has done elsewhere.
Doctors and entire nations have been and are continuing to use this drug successfully, especially in combination with azithromycin and zinc. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has shown that the countries which actively use hydroxychloroquine have significantly lower death rates than those that do not. (Full article.)
Dr. Pascal Sacré
Another doctor who has spoken out in an article published today (August 4, 2020) is French Dr. Pascal Sacré. The title of his article is:
We have a treatment in COVID-19 and it doesn’t have the support of Big Pharma and their experts!
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is effective in treating COVID-19.
It is effective in halting the progression of the disease, provided it is given early enough and provided it is given in accordance with “contraindications” and safety of use (cardiac).
It costs nothing and the powerful pharmaceutical industry does not want to hear about it.
Big Parma has done everything to outlaw and demonize it, including the publication in the most prestigious medical journal (Lancet) of a fraudulent article withdrawn 12 days later.
Let’s stop saying that there is no treatment for COVID-19 or that only a vaccine will save us!
There is a treatment for this disease, not in intensive care, where it is too late, but to prevent it from going to intensive care, so to be given early enough, by general practitioners or emergency doctors.
The key to defeat COVID-19 already exists. We need to start using it. (Full Article.)
Dr. Kevin R. Wheelan and Dr. Peter McCullough
Texas doctors Dr. Kevin R. Wheelan, chief of cardiology at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital in Dallas and Dr. Peter McCullough, a clinical cardiologist and professor at the Texas A&M School of Medicine, have also made public comments and sent a letter to the FDA a few days ago.
The number of doctors publicly supporting the use of hydroxychloroquine for early treatment or prevention is growing.
Recently, Dr. Kevin R. Wheelan, chief of cardiology at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital in Dallas and Dr. Peter McCullough, a clinical cardiologist and professor at the Texas A&M School of Medicine, issued a letter supporting the emergency use authorization (EUA) of hydroxychloroquine for outpatient treatment and prophylaxis for COVID-19.
The letter dated July 6 was submitted in support of a petition by several other doctors asking the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to reissue an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine that has been donated to the national stockpile.
Wheelan and McCullough say in their letter that “when started earlier in the hospital course…and in outpatients, antimalarials [hydroxychloroquine] may reduce the progression of disease, prevent hospitalizations, and are associated with reduced mortality.” They cite several studies for support.
In response to concerns that have been raised about cardiac issues with patients using hydroxychloroquine, the doctors point out that even with heightened scrutiny of the use of hydroxychloroquine, no monitoring boards have declared safety concerns with the 65-year-old drug. They urge the FDA to allow physicians to assess the risk to their patients in determining whether hydroxychloroquine is an appropriate treatment. (Full article.)
This is just a sampling of the doctors who are coming forward and speaking out, but don’t expect the national corporate media to give them any coverage, and don’t expect to find out anything about these doctors if you do a Google Search, as Google and the rest of Big Tech are accomplices to mass murder along with the big corporate media outlets, such as CNN, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, and also Fox News.
Laura Ingram and Tucker Carlson on Fox will at times give exposure to these doctors, but they will also probably politicize it and use it to attack Democrats and Joe Biden, even though this is clearly a non-partisan issue.
In spite of this overt censorship, the news seems to be getting out, and as we reported yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest in Europe over the weekend. See:
Because English is now the common language among the educated around the world, hundreds of thousands of readers from India and Africa have also been coming to Health Impact News to learn the truth about HCQ during the past few days.
The question now is will Americans wake up in time to free themselves of this medical tyranny, or just mostly continue to willingly comply with their own destruction?
The church is the body of Christ—a group of people unified (Ephesians 4:1-3) under Christ, who represent and reflect Him to the world (1 Corinthians 12:12-17). The purpose of the church is to join people of different backgrounds and talents and provide them training and opportunities for God’s work. It accomplishes this both internally, within the body, and externally, in the world.
Acts 2:42 explains the internal function of the church: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Jesus entrusted the church with the task to teach the body sound doctrine. There are many influences in the world that claim to have the truth, but God entrusted His word to the church (Ephesians 4:14). Still, knowledge of doctrine is useless if it isn’t used (1 Corinthians 13:2): “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV). Sound teaching leads to spiritual maturity which leads to building up the body of Christ.
The purpose of the church is also to provide a place to “break bread.” Often, this means just eating together and living life together (Acts 2:42). Formally, we break bread at the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The practice of the Lord’s Supper unifies us as it reminds us that we are all saved by Christ’s sacrifice. Practically, it also provides an opportunity to reconcile differences and right wrongs as we examine our interactions with fellow believers (1 Corinthians 11:27-28).
The natural result of sound teaching and a unified body is that the members of the church will take care of each other. The most powerful way to care for others is to pray for them (Acts 2:42). Just as the early church prayed for each other (Acts 12:5; Philippians 1:3-4), so we should bring each others’ needs before God (Philippians 4:6-7). Within the church we are also called to show honor (Romans 12:10), compassion (Ephesians 4:32), encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and love (1 John 3:11). And we are to meet each others’ practical needs. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” One of the primary purposes of the church is to provide for the needs of its members (Acts 20:34-35; Romans 15:26).
Externally, the purpose of the church is to fulfill the Great Commission as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:18-20. There is no nobler purpose for the church than to introduce others to Christ. We do this in part by making sure we faithfully represent Him and become who He has called us to be. Philippians 2:15 exhorts us to be “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” Whether we witness to people in our neighborhoods or send others to foreign lands, the church is called to manifest the Holy Spirit in us by embodying Jesus’ character and telling others about Him.
The purpose of the church is to be the believer’s spiritual family. It is through the church that God takes people with different personalities and gifts, unifies them as a single body, and equips them to care for each other and reach the world. We were not meant to live the Christian life alone; surrounded by the biblical teaching and loving community of the church, together we find our own purpose in life.
During the group meeting, some members receive revelation from the Lord in a word, picture or scripture, and afterwards will forward what they have received.
There is usually an obvious pattern or prophetic theme connecting all that has been revealed. We then put it all together and I record a video for YouTube.
If a tiny covid 19 virus that is invisible to the human eye can devastate the world, think what a mustard seed of faith in our hands can do.
We must prepare ourselves in lockdown for the harvest that is coming.
Be Prepared, Committed and Renewed
Here are some prophetic words which were recently received:
This season is a ‘come season’ (come give me your burdens, rest in me)
Next season is a ‘go’ out into all the world season.
Matthew 10:7-13: 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
There is a feeling that it is not necessarily all going to happen inside church buildings, but out in the marketplace- or wherever your patch in the vineyard may be.
Did you know that searches for the word “GOD” on Google increased significantly during lockdown?
We must be prepared, renewed and committed, because Jesus tells us in Luke 10:2: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
We must pray and ask the Lord of the harvest to equip us for every spiritual opportunity. We are the workers and we are called to ‘go’, saying, as we go: ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me!’
People forward the Armchair Church YouTube videos to their friends. Its growth is becoming like ripples in a brook.
Over the last 33 years as a Catholic speaker, I have spoken and ministered in prisons, prayer groups, parishes, communities, as well as at most of the main Catholic Conferences, which has produced a lot of fruit. However, during this period of lockdown, we are reaching more people now through social media than before the pandemic.
It is a unique age of evangelistic opportunities through modern technology-without leaving the comfort of my home.
Genesis 50:20: What the enemy intends for bad, the Lord can and will turn it around to the good
Picture: Leadership by Nick Youngson, Blue Diamond Gallery, Alpha Stock Images
Effective, Spirit-filled leaders will be essential in the Church of the future, says Charles Whitehead, as new book “Called To Lead” is released.
I have written this book because good lay leadership in the Church is becoming more and more important as the number of priests gradually declines in many areas.
Lay leadership, both male and female, is already making an important contribution in different parts of the life of the Church. This will become even more necessary as we face an uncertain future.
Our current experience of the coronavirus has forced us to completely change our ways of being church communities, and the future patterns we will be following are still far from obvious.
What will it mean to be a leader in the Church “for just such a time as this?”
Staying Close To The Lord
“Called to Lead” has all Church leaders in mind – clergy, religious, lay, young and old alike.
My aim has been to focus on the key issues all leaders need to address, both in their personal spiritual lives where it is essential to maintain a close relationship with the Lord, in their relationships with fellow leaders, and very importantly with all those they are leading.
I have also considered the kinds of questions they will regularly have to face. I had in mind not just leadership in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal but in the Church generally, and secular leadership as well, where appropriate.
I have attempted to stimulate constructive thinking on a wide range of issues, and I have tried to write in a way that allows the book to be used for private reflection, or for small group study and discussion among leaders.
Drawing On My Own Experience
My own experience of Church leadership goes back to 1977, and over the years I have held a wide variety of leadership responsibilities in many different parts of the Catholic Church as well as ecumenically – locally, nationally and internationally.
My personal journey also covers the thirty five years I spent in the world of business and industry, both full-time and part-time, for much of which I was responsible for several subsidiary companies of a Swedish forestry group.
The foreword to the book is written by David Oakley, Bishop of Northampton, and includes these very helpful words:
Things are changing in the Church and they will have to change even more in the days ahead. Some might fear this. They should not fear because history shows us God is working with power in our own time. Others will be encouraged by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Charles has certainly focused on one of the most important and pressing needs in our ecclesial world today – the need for sound leadership. There is much to think about in his twenty chapters……..I commend this book to all who are called to leadership in the Church.
There is no doubt, in my own mind, that good Christian leadership will help ensure that, whatever the future may hold, and whatever plans God may have for his people, we can face the years ahead with confidence, and lead those for whom we are responsible forward-always under the guidance, and in the power, of the Holy Spirit, and for just such a time as this
Premium TimesBuhari and Chinese President[Photo: thelagostelevision.com]
The Nigerian press has been awash with concern about the terms of some loans contracted with or about to be contracted with China. The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, even called on legislators to “look the other way” rather than conduct their due diligence on the loans, or else China will withdraw its support.
In this report, we try to tease out all the different strands of the debate.
What is the status of China loans to Nigeria?
Data obtained from the Debt Management Office (DMO)showed that between 2010 and March 31, 2020, 11 loan facilities have been obtained from the China Exim Bank.
The loans all have a seven-year grace period, 20 years tenor and were obtained at 2.5 per cent interest rate. They, however, have differing varying maturity dates.
The projects for which the loans were obtained include Nigerian National Public Security Communication system Project; Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Idu- Kaduna section); Abuja Light Rail Project; Nigerian ICT Infrastructure Backbone Project; and the Nigerian Four Airport Terminal Expansion Project (Abuja, Kano, Lagos & Port Harcourt).
Others are the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project; 40 Parboiled Rice Processing Plants Project (Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development); Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Lagos – Ibadan section); Nigeria Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Abuja – Keffi Makurdi Road; Nigeria Supply of Rolling Stocks and Depot Equipment for Abuja Light Rail Project; and the Nigeria Greater Abuja Water Supply Project.
Details revealed that the National Public Security Communication system Project of $399m and the Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Idu- Kaduna section) of $500m were both obtained in December 2010 and are due to mature in September 2030. Funds for both projects have equally been fully disbursed at 100 per cent and Nigeria has an outstanding of $322m and $403m to pay upon the Security and Railway projects, respectively.
Loans for the Abuja Light Rail Project of $500m and the Nigerian ICT Infrastructure Backbone Project of $100m were obtained in November 2012 and January 2013 respectively. Both projects have also been fully disbursed at 100 per cent with an outstanding payment of $480m and $100m, respectively.
For the $500m Airport Terminal Expansion Project (Abuja, Kano, Lagos & Port Harcourt), the $984m Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project, and the $325m Nigerian Parboiled Rice Processing Plants Project (Fed. Min. of Agric & Rural Dev), the maturity dates are 2034, 2033 and 2036, respectively. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
The Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Lagos – Ibadan section) was funded with $1, 267m, the Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Abuja – Keffi Makurdi Road with $460m, the Supply of Rolling Stocks and Depot Equipment for Abuja Light Rail Project $157m, and the Nigeria Greater Abuja Water Supply Project with $381m. All four loan facilities were obtained in August 2017 and May 2018, with maturity dates of September 2037 and March 2038.
As of March 2020, the Lagos Railway project has enjoyed 60 per cent disbursement rate while the Abuja-Keffi project has enjoyed a 17 per cent disbursement rate.
For the project on Supply of Rolling Stocks and Depot Equipment for Abuja Light Rail Project and the Nigeria Greater Abuja Water Supply Projects, no amount has been disbursed as of March 31, 2020, and no interest has been paid.
The country is now trying to obtain another loan from China to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt – Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Eastern Railway.
What does Nigeria’s law say?
According to Nigeria’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, (FRA) governments at all tiers shall borrow for only capital expenditure and human development at concessional terms (Section 41, 1(a)). By restricting new debt to concessional loans, the requirement guards against loans with expensive repayment terms, which could impoverish the country. Furthermore, Nigeria’s procurement laws require that projects of this magnitude undergo a competitive bidding process to ensure that the government gets value for money.
The practice on most new loans, not just the China loans, deviate from these requirements. Many planned loans taken in the recent past and some of the planned ones are not for capital or human development expenditure. Rather than offering grants or concessionary loans, China provides huge project-related loans at market-based rates, without transparency, much less environmental- or social impact assessments. Almost all the loans from China, including the one under controversy, are at commercial market rates, not concessional terms, which makes repayment terms very expensive.
The Procurement Act is hardly followed: no public information is available on how these infrastructure projects were conceived and what appraisal process they went through, other than Presidential and Federal Executive Council’s approvals. There are no architectural or structural drawings for interested members of the public to view. Unlike loans by multilaterals like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and regional development banks whose agreements are publicly available, no China-related loan agreements have ever been publicly shared by successive governments in Nigeria (or China) since the Jonathan administration, and the current one under controversy got into public space by chance. The two issues around the FRA Act and the Procurement Act alone make the loans illegal even if ratified by the National Assembly. Any subsequent government can renege on future obligations to China on the grounds that the contract was void ab initio.
Is China’s modus operandi a source of concern?
China is associated with lack of transparency in its dealings with governments, especially in the developing world. With its “debt-trap diplomacy”, China uses its financial muscle to achieve important strategic and global objectives. Financing projects abroad allows it to boost its exports of goods and services.
Most of China’s financing is in the form of commercial loans tied to projects, often at onerous terms. Unlike multilateral and bilateral organizations’ lending, Chinese loans are collateralized by strategically important natural assets with high long-term value (even if they lack short-term commercial viability). This is because China chooses its projects according to their long-term strategic value, and so they may yield short-term returns that are insufficient for countries to repay their debts.
In exchange for financing and building the infrastructure that poorer countries need, China often demands favourable access to their natural assets, from mineral resources to land and seaports. Since the financing terms of the projects are often optimistic about the commercial viability of the projects, once in operation, many projects are unable to finance loan service from their revenue, putting countries in a debt trap, often paving the way for China to take over national assets and sovereignty.
What is China’s plan for Nigeria?
Not having seen the full loan documents, one is unable to comment fully on the nature of the agreements that cede Nigeria’s sovereignty to China ( as described in press reports). But there are several examples globally that could make this the intention:
The EXIM Bank of China-funded the construction of Hambantota port in Sri Lanka at commercial rates based on optimistic estimates of revenue from ocean-going vessels. Advances totalled $1.3 billion. Sure enough, Hambantota port was not making enough revenue to repay China when loan payments came due. In 2015, Sri Lanka, unable to pay the onerous debt to China it has accumulated formally handed over the port and more than 15,000 square feet of areas around it to China on a 99-year lease. China’s lease agreement over Hambantota included a promise that China would shave $1.1 billion off Sri Lanka’s debt.
The Mediterranean port of Piraeus was acquired from cash-strapped Greece by a Chinese firm for $436 million.
In 2015, a Chinese firm took out a 99-year lease on Australia’s deep-water port of Darwin – home to more than 1,000 US Marines – for $388 million.
Similarly, Djibouti was straddled with numerous infrastructure projects including a new port, two new airports and the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, on a scale-out of variance with the size of the economy of the cash-strapped country. The country became trapped in a debt crisis and had no choice but to lease land to China for $20 million per year. China established its first overseas military base in the country, its first one overseas, just a few miles from a US naval base.
Several other countries, from Africa, Asia to Latin America, have been ensnared in a Chinese debt trap, forcing them to confront agonizing choices in order to stave off default. Kenya’s crushing debt to China now threatens to turn its busy port of Mombasa – the gateway to East Africa – into another Hambantota.
These experiences should serve as warning that China has strategic interest in its loans, not just commercial interests. Commercial terms could, therefore, be structured in such a way as to eventually achieve strategic goals. If Nigeria is caught in debt bondage to China, it risks losing both valuable natural assets and sovereignty. Minister of Transport Amaechi’s warning not to probe too much into China’s loan is proof that there really is a lot to worry about.
Where do we go from here?
It is true that Nigeria and many African countries have substantial infrastructure deficits and loans from China are helpful. However, given narrow revenue bases and undiversified economy, – which has been worsened by COVID-19 pandemic – can Nigeria realistically service more debt? This question cannot be answered without consideration of the terms of the loans and assessment of the trade-offs.
One also has to consider whether it is China’s fault that governments broker shoddy deals that do not benefit their people. Governments that are not accountable to their people will try to get away with anything, as long as people accept the status quo. Nigerians need to demand more accountability from their leaders otherwise the followers are as complicit.
In the government’s attempt to bridge the infrastructure deficit, it should be more circumspect in dealing with not only China but all lenders. It is important to be aware of exploitative dangers associated with debts whose terms and agreements are shrouded in secrecy, and not published. They should stand ready to protect the country’s interest.
No doubt China has more “financial firepower” to deploy than most other sources of financing, but in negotiations, the country should not be taken for a ride. Rather, China should be used to grow the economy beneficially. If this is done properly, Nigeria could avoid the fate that befell Sri Lanka and other countries.
The key to getting to that position is openness about contracts signed on behalf of the country and allowing public debate to bring out the best position. NGOs and the press should stand ready to demand for copies of not just the agreements with China, but all agreements signed by the country for a comprehensive review.