By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari will today depart for China to participate in the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled to hold September 3 – 4, 2018 in Beijing.
According to a statement made available to newsmen by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, Buhari’s first engagement in Beijing will be an interactive session with the Nigerian Community in China at the Nigerian Embassy.
Before the formal opening of the FOCAC Summit, the President in his capacity as current Chair of ECOWAS, is expected to deliver remarks at the High-Level Dialogue between Chinese and African leaders, business representatives and African entrepreneurs.
The Nigerian President is scheduled to join President Jinping and other African leaders for the opening and roundtable sessions of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit under the theme: “Towards an even Stronger China-Africa Community with a shared Future.”
After the FOCAC Summit, Buhari will hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and 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 President will also 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 on-going projects in the railway and power sectors.
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.
In January 2018 while receiving the Board of Directors of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, the President had 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 the Chinese. 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.’’
The President 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, under the theme, ‘‘Joining Hands for a Future of AIDS.’’
Also on the President’s entourage are Governors Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, Akinwunmi Ambode, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar and Rochas Anayo Okorocha of Bauchi, Lagos, Jigawa and Imo States respectively.
Others are Senators Abdullahi Adamu, George Akume, Godswill Akpabio and Aliyu Wamakko representing Nasarawa, Benue, Akwa Ibom and Sokoto States respectively.
Also accompanying the President are: the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of 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, Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
Others are the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; the Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar; and the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru.