President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday arrived Beijing to attend the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) holding in that country from tomorrow to Tuesday.
During his 6-day official visit to that country, the Nigerian president is expected to join his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to witness the signing of an agreement on the National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase 11 (NICTIB 11) between Galaxy Backbone Limited and Huawei Technologies Limited (HUAWEI) at the cost of US $328 million facility provided by the Chinese EXIM Bank.
The Nigerian delegation led by the President Buhari is also expected to sign no fewer than 25 MOUs with China.
According to a statement by senior special assistant on media and publicity to the president, Garba Shehu, the bank facility is for the development of NICTIB 11 project, which is consistent with the current administration’s commitment to incorporating the development of ICT into national strategic planning under the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The presidential spokesman said President Buhari and his Chinese host will also witness the signing of the MOU on One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR).
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that in 2013, the Chinese leader proposed the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, with a view to integrating the development strategies of partnering countries.
To this effect, Shehu noted that during the High-Level Dialogue between Chinese and African leaders and Business representatives on the margins of FOCAC, the Nigerian delegation is also expected to sign no fewer than 25 MOUs, including those proposed by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
He stated that the president on arrival at Capital International Airport, Beijing, at about 9:04 am (Nigerian time), was received by top Chinese government officials, including the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian.
Others who joined in receiving President Buhari are Nigeria’s Ambassador to China, Baba Ahmed Jidda and his wife Zahra; the Deputy Chief of Mission, Ambassador Bakori Aliyu Usman; Consular-General of Nigeria, Guangzhou, Shairudeen Oloko; Consular-General of Nigeria, Shanghai, Anderson Madubuike and Defence Attaché, Brig-Gen Temitope Ademola.
Shehu further said, “President Buhari will tomorrow meet Nigerians living in China before the kick-off of FOCAC on Monday when he will join President Jinping and other African leaders for roundtable sessions which will essentially discuss the report of FOCAC since the 2015 Johannesburg Summit, including the implementation of the ‘‘ten cooperation plans’’ adopted at the last meeting.
“The Summit is also expected to adopt the Beijing Declaration and the Action Plan for the development of China-Africa cooperation and fashion out new opportunities to grow Nigeria-China comprehensive strategic partnership from 2019 to 2021”.
Trump’s Comment Won’t Keep Other World Leaders Away From Nigeria- Presidency.
Meanwhile, the presidency said yesterday that United States President Donald Trump’s alleged “lifeless” comments about President Muhammadu Buhari won’t keep other world leaders away from President Buhari.
Speaking with journalists on arrival in Beijing, China, senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, reiterated the presidency’s position that it will not respond to Trump’s alleged comments.
This is coming some days after British Prime minister, Theresa May and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel visited Nigeria during the week.
Shehu said, “You know that as a policy, we said that we are not going to answer the American President, however, the fact that the entire world and world leaders are cueing up to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, is an indication that there is something about President Buhari, there is something about the Nigeria he now leads, that the world likes.
“I think that Nigerians themselves should better look at this from this positive point of view, is a major development. We had situations in the country in the past where key world leaders didn’t want to meet our own leaders, all of that has changed in the last three years”.
On the expectation of Nigeria from this visit by the president, he replied: “You know that from the last summit in South Africa, the Chinese financing of projects in Nigeria has more than doubled under President Muhammadu Buhari and so therefore, we expect that if the same momentum is mentained.
“ We hope that going forward, all of the projects that are outstanding like the Kaduna-Kano rail project, the coastal rail scheme, Mambilla power project, the second phase of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport expansion project, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja/ Kano and all of these projects, they will move more steadily and thankfully, we have virtually everyone who matters on our own side.
“So, we hope that what ever is left, the doted lines will be signed, and we are hoping that we will take back with us, quite a number of schemes that will take Nigeria forward.”