Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari will today (Friday) depart for China to participate in the seventh Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled to hold on September 3 and 4, 2018, in Beijing.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement said the president’s first engagement in Beijing would be an interactive session with the Nigerian community in China at the Nigerian embassy.
According to him, before the formal opening of the FOCAC summit, Buhari, in his capacity as the current Chairman of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), will deliver a speech at the high-level dialogue between Chinese and African leaders, business representatives and African entrepreneurs.
He also said the president is scheduled to join Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and other African leaders at the opening and roundtable sessions of 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit with the theme: ‘Towards an even Stronger China-Africa Community with a shared Future’.
Shehu also said after the FOCAC summit, Buhari will hold bilateral meetings with Jinping and Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, to discuss infrastructure financing for strategic projects in Nigeria and the upgrading of Nigeria-China relations “from strategic partnership to comprehensive strategic partnership.”
The presidential aide also said Buhari would use the occasion of his audience with the Chinese leadership to assess the progress made so far in Chinese interventions in Nigeria’s key priority infrastructure projects, particularly the on-going projects in the railway and power sectors.
He added: “It is noteworthy that since the last FOCAC VI summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December 2015-the first attended by the Nigerian leader-and his successful state visit to China in April 2016, the current administration has pushed forward practical cooperation with China in the areas of infrastructure construction, trade, investments, finance, power, agriculture, education cooperation, among others.
“It would be recalled that President Buhari has consistently acknowledged Chinese support for infrastructure development in Nigeria.”
Shehu recalled that in January 2018, while receiving the Board of Directors of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, the president said: “We send our gratitude to the Chinese for all their support to Nigeria. Since independence, no country has helped our country on infrastructural development like China. In some projects, the Chinese help us with 85 percent payment and soft loans that span 20 years. No country has done that for us.’’
According to the statement, Buhari will be accompanied to Beijing by his wife, Aisha, who is scheduled to participate in a ‘Spouses’ Programme’ on China-Africa at the Great Hall of the People, with the theme: ‘Joining Hands for a Future of AIDS’.
Others listed to be part of the trip are Governors Mohammed Abubakar, Akinwunmi Ambode, Mohammed Abubakar and Rochas Okorocha of Bauchi, Lagos, Jigawa and Imo States respectively.
Also joining the trip are Senators Abdullahi Adamu, George Akume, Godswill Akpabio and Aliyu Wamakko who represent Nasarawa, Benue, Akwa Ibom and Sokoto States respectively in the Senate.
Others are the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma; Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu; Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, and Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
Also going with the president are the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru.