Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama Thursday told State House Correspondents that Chinese government had volunteered to fund the office of the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Prof. Tijjani Muhammad- Bande, for the next one year.
Bande, a Nigerian, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), was elected as the President of the 74th UN General Assembly in June, this year.
Onyeama’s briefing was the fallout of a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and China’s special envoy to Nigeria, Yang Jiechi, who had been sent to the president by the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping.
Bande, who was the sole candidate for the position, got elected through acclamation at the 87th plenary session of UNGA in New York, and is the second Nigerian to preside over UNGA; the first being Gen. Joseph Garba, a military officer and diplomat, who served from 1989 to 1990.
Speaking on the funding, Onyeama said China made the offer in expression of its support of the reform of the UN that will pave the way for Africa to be represented in the Security Council.
“We have as you know had a Nigerian representative at the United Nations, Prof. Bande, elected as the next President of the General Assembly. The Chinese have provided a funding for that office so that he can function effectively over the next one year,” he said.
According to Onyeama, Buhari, at the meeting, was informed about details of China’s offer and other levels of support and cooperation with Nigeria beyond funding the office of UNGA president, to include infrastructural support, among others.
“In the area of power, the president emphasized the mambilla power project and the importance of getting that moving again. They looked at the issues of airport, the progress of the airport terminals that the Chinese are helping to construct across the country.
“We also discusses the support of the cooperation in the area of agriculture as well and also encouraging Nigeria to export more to China. We talked about the China exhibition by the end of this year which will be a platform for us to also showcase what we can export, not just agricultural products but also finished products.
“China is also putting more money on the area of security, sharing of intelligence with our military, assistance with arms production and in the fight against terrorism.
“On the issue of Lake Chad, China has had a lot of experience with refilling dams and long range water project, and so Mr. President also feels that we need their support in that area. They are already supporting the Lake Chad Basin Commission and we are hoping that they will help us with regards to recharging of the Lake Chad.”