President Muhammadu Buhari will on Friday depart for Beijing, China, to participate in the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation scheduled to hold between September 3 and 4.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.
According to the presidential aide, the president’s first engagement in Beijing will be an interactive session with the Nigerian Community in China at the Nigerian Embassy.
He said, before the formal opening of the FOCAC Summit, President Buhari in his capacity as current Chair of ECOWAS, would deliver remarks at the High-Level Dialogue between Chinese and African leaders, business representatives and African entrepreneurs.
He added that the Nigerian President was scheduled to join President Jinping and other African leaders for the opening and roundtable sessions of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit.
The theme of the summit is: “Towards an even Stronger China-Africa Community with a shared Future”.
Shehu revealed that after the FOCAC Summit, President Buhari would hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang to discuss infrastructure financing for strategic projects in Nigeria.
He stated that their discussion would also cover the upgrading of Nigeria-China relations “from strategic partnership to comprehensive strategic partnership”.
He said: “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 ongoing 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 per cent payment, and soft loans that span 20 years. No country has done that for us.’’
The statement said President Buhari would be 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, 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 and Minister of FCT, Muhammad Bello.
Others are: 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.
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; the Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar; and the Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru are also part of the president’s entourage.