Buhari to visit China in April
Jaiyeola Andrews in Abuja
The federal government Thursday said it was poised to repatriating a significant amount of Nigeria’s looted funds stashed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It said though it could not be specific on the figure of the looted funds stashed in the UAE, but noted that the amount could be on the high side.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, made the disclosure while responding to questions at a press briefing in Abuja.
He told journalists that the federal government’s efforts at recovering looted funds was ongoing.
“Yes, there are Mutual Legal Assistance Agreements signed by UAE and other countries to facilitate dealing with stolen funds. UAE is one of the areas we are clearly looking at in terms of repatriating Nigeria’s resources, but how much are we looking at? We don’t have any figure in respect of that, but hopefully, it would be significant because we really need it, oil prices being where they are, we really need to get as much of our stolen funds back as possible” the minister averred.
According to him, the federal government had been engaging many countries to repatriate the stolen funds, saying all the countries were willing to assist Nigeria.
On the shuttle diplomacy and frequent foreign trips by President Muhammadu Buhari, Onyeama disclosed that Buhari could achieve quick wins and a lot of support and cooperation from his fellow presidents when he meets with them one-on-one.
According to the minister, Buhari had strategically visited South Africa, Kenya, Egypt and Equatorial Guinea, Iran among others to push his foreign policy and shore up support for Nigeria and Africa.
He said all the multilateral meetings attended by Buhari were aimed at pushing African and Nigerian interests to the forefront of the world.
Onyeama noted that Buhari’s visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among others, were meant to stabilise the downward slide of oil prices.
He stressed that the president had articulated the vision of his administration built on security, economy, governance and tackling corruption, noting that: “Buhari represents the brand Nigeria has and his persona has attracted goodwill to the country.” he said.
On the speculations that Nigeria has joined the Islamic countries alliance against terrorism, the minister said his ministry did not sign any agreement with the Islamic countries.
“Nigeria is facing an existential threat and there is a need to join a global coalition to combat terrorism, so we support the objectives of the Islamic alliance against terrorism, but this ministry has not signed any agreement to be part of them,” Onyeama added.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Gu Xiaojie, who spoke with journalists at a separate occasion, said Buhari would be in China on his first state visit in April, 2016.
According to the envoy, the president’s visit to China would be to expand the cooperation between Nigeria and China.
He promised that Nigeria and China would work closely to implement the outcomes of the Sino-Africa summit which was held in South Africa in December, 2015.
Xiaojie added that Nigeria was in dire need of infrastructure, saying Chinese firms with the backing of EXIM Bank and the Chinese government had embarked on various developmental projects in Nigeria including airport construction to bridge the infrastructure gap.
“The total trade between Nigeria and China is $14.92billion last year on account of falling commodity prices, but Nigeria is still the third largest trading partner of China.
“Trading relations between the two countries are significant and growing, and Nigeria is the destination of Chinese contractual development projects.
“China is in a position to share capacities, experience and deploy finance to assist in the development of African countries,” the envoy noted.