Tokunbo Adedoja in Washington, DC and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
United States President, Donald Trump, wonâ€™t visit Nigeria until after the 2019 polls, Foreign Affairs Minister, Geofrey Onyeama, said in Washington DC, United States yesterday.
Onyeama who made this disclosure while answering questions from journalists on the aftermath of Buhariâ€™s visit to the US alongside his counterparts in the Ministry of Justice, and Industry, Trade and Investment, said visits at presidential levels is not usually a simple affair.
According to him, it usually takes at least one year to plan for a presidential visit adding that with the proximity to elections in Nigeria as well as Trumpâ€™s busy schedule, the possibility of Trumpâ€™s visit will be late next year.
â€œRegarding the invitation, well if the programmes of the two presidents are very very intensive, it usually takes anything up to a year to prepare for invitation at that kind of level before they actually take place. Of course in Nigeria, you know we have elections coming up and a very very busy schedule as that of President Trump, maybe sometime next year, we could envisage something like that,â€ he said,
In his own briefing, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, said the federal government had signed investment agreement with General Electric of the US on railway concessions which he said would be executed in two phases.
He also said the president met with other prospective investors such as John Deere on the possibility of assembling tractors in Nigeria adding that Boeing will offer some support to the aviation sector while other companies such as Procter & Gamble and Chevron have also been engaged on possible investments in Nigeria.
â€œFirst, on Friday, the government signed investment agreement with General Electric on the railway concessions. The agreement is going to be in two phases. The first phase is to get the job rolling that will involve over $40 million investment that will get some of the existing rail tracks working, with the right coaches and carriages to get some of the cargoes and passengers going. And then there is the big one which is the $2 billion investment to revamp our existing rail and making sure its use for cargo and transport. That is the narrow gauge and the existing rails we have in addition to all the new ones we have. So that is just one investment from one company.
â€œSome of the companies Mr. President met with were John Deere, that is looking to assemble and supply tractors in Nigeria. At its full expression, it is expected to exceed 10,000 tractors. Initially, itâ€™s going to be in hundreds but there is no question that it fits this model of trying to invest in Nigeria, train people, employ people and help the agriculture value chain in terms of its mechanization, automation and all the good things that come from a company like John Deere.
â€œOther companies like Cotava, that are basically into agricultural business which is being turned into a multi-million dollar business, another company called Continental Grains, Bongi; There is Flour Mills, who are all looking to make serious investments in Nigeria. Our own companies were there as well, including the Dangote Group.
â€œEveryone of these companies are committed to making a serious investment in Nigeria that runs into hundreds of millions of dollars and in aggregate will become billions of dollars just like the GE one. For instance, Boeing is very interested in supporting the aviation sector, the plan to roll out something that will increase the availability of flights from Nigeria.
â€œProcter & Gamble is looking to expand its investment in Nigeria. Chevron, as you know, is the oil company. It also commended Nigeria on how they have succeeded in sorting out the historical problem with cash calls and so on. So, in terms of investment and commitment, there is every reason to be positive. It is certainly in the billions of dollars. We need to sharpen our pencils and take it on,â€ he said.
On exactly what President Trump meant by agricultural produce coming to Nigeria, Enelamah said: â€œWhat is to take away is that there is a lot of scope for collaboration between Nigeria and the US. Our view is that the major scope is that the fact that you have these agricultural businesses whether they are in equipment like John Deere or they are in crops and seeds and enhancement like Coteva and Bongi or Continental grains, that can help improve production in Nigeria.
â€œSo, most of them will certainly function there. Clearly, when it comes to trade between the two countries, there will always be scope for trade. But right now, when you include oil, it will mean Nigeria exporting more to the US but when you remove oil, the US is actually exporting more to Nigeria. I think the important thing is that the balance of trade should grow on both sides and it should be win-win. And that is exactly what will happen based on what we will see today.â€
Also briefing, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, said plans were being made for the AGFs of both countries to draw up plans for the repatriation of $500 million stolen funds from the US to Nigeria as agreed by both Trump and Buhari on Monday.