President Muhammadu Buhari arrived Beijing on Saturday to attend the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) holding September 3 – 4, 2018.
During the six-day official visit of the President, he is expected to join his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to witness the signing of an agreement on the National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase 11 (NICTIB 11) between Galaxy Backbone Limited and Huawei Technologies Limited (HUAWEI) at the cost of $328 million facility provided by the Chinese EXIM Bank.
The bank facility is for the development of NICTIB 11 project which is consistent with the current administration’s commitment to incorporating the development of ICT into national strategic planning under the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Buhari and his Chinese host will also witness the signing of the MOU on One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR). It may be recalled that in 2013, the Chinese leader proposed the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, with a view to integrating the development strategies of partnering countries.
During the High-Level Dialogue between Chinese and African Leaders and Business representatives on the margins of FOCAC, the Nigerian delegation is also expected to sign no fewer than 25 MOUs, including those proposed by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
Earlier, the President on arrival at Capital International Airport, Beijing about 9:04 am (Nigerian time), was received by top Chinese government officials including the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to China, Baba Ahmed Jidda and his wife Zahra; the Deputy Chief of Mission, Ambassador Bakori Aliyu Usman; Consular-General of Nigeria, Guangzhou, Shairudeen Oloko; Consular-General of Nigeria, Shanghai, Anderson Madubuike; and Defence Attaché, Brig-Gen. Temitope Ademola were also among those who received the President.
Buhari will on Sunday meet Nigerians living in China before the kick-off of FOCAC on Monday when he will join Jinping and other African leaders for roundtable sessions which will essentially discuss the report of FOCAC since the 2015 Johannesburg Summit, including the implementation of the ‘‘ten cooperation plans’’ adopted at the last meeting.
The Summit is also expected to adopt the Beijing Declaration and the Action Plan for the development of China-Africa cooperation and fashion out new opportunities to grow Nigeria-China comprehensive strategic partnership from 2019 to 2021.
Buhari was accompanied to Beijing by his wife, Aisha, who was 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.’’
Also on the president’s entourage are Governors Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar (Bauchi), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Mohammed Abubakar (Jigawa) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo).
Others are Senators Abdullahi Adamu, George Akume, Godswill Akpabio and Aliyu Wamakko.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and Minister of FCT, Muhammad Bello were also in the entourage.
Similarly, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister of Water Resource Suleiman Adamu, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu and Minister of State, Aviation Hadi Sirika, went for the summit.
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru, will also attend.