Buhari is building a global network of friendships for Nigeria
CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY
For such a nation, (with trillions of dollars in reserves, that plans to spend $2 trillion on imports in the next five years and earn $100 billion annually) who still sees itself as a developing nation, such modesty in the face of success, assiduous hard work and productivity is a destination to seek cooperation in the pursuit of economic development. This is where PMB led an array of Nigerian investors including Erisco Foods, (who now makes our tomato paste at home and employs people locally including farmers who supply the tomatoes), Power operators (DisCos and GenCos), and the Dangote Group, to meet with and address their Chinese partners.
During the meeting with the Chinese President, 6 (Six) collaboration agreements were signed including for agriculture and food production improvement techniques, rail and power infrastructure development, for funding the Dangote group to continue to expand and create jobs at home and keeping some of our reserves in the currency of the richest nation in the world. This last mentioned agreement was a legitimate coup by PMB because the intelligence was that some West African countries were going to sign before us. PMB seized the moment. Of course he had to apologize for our previous failures on our agreement made to part-fund 4 airport projects in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt and Abuja-Kaduna rail project.
The Chinese had provided their agreed part of 85% but the remaining 15% Nigeria did not honour during the last administration. Some of the recent revelations about financial scandals estimated at $2.1 billion in the office of the National Security Adviser alone during the last administration suggest how impactful such funds would have been in delivering these critical infrastructures; but we all know what happened. This is why PMB is traveling. To repair our reputation severely damaged by the last government, and to assure our partners that Nigeria has CHANGED. And from there to re-negotiate an existing funding agreement to complete critical Transport infrastructure. Because of his reputation, President Xi Jinping believed him, and to quote him, he said: “It is better late than never. ” Through him China literally opened the door to Nigeria in areas of infrastructure (power, railways and roads), agriculture, education and manufacturing especially in our Free Trade Zones.
To paraphrase the Chinese President, “ask us for whatever support or partnership and we will be happy to respond.” “We wish to see you take your rightful place and we are happy that you are the first African president visiting China, after my visit to Africa last year to pledge a $60 billion support for the Development of the continent.” If this was not initiative I doubt what is? As for the trips to Paris, COP 21 and the USA, Nuclear Security Summit, I will only say this: a) The threat of climate change, global warming, desertification in the north of Nigeria and coastal erosion in the Atlantic (Bar beach in Lagos) and in the south, affecting Rivers, Bayelsa and other coastal states, the clear scientific evidence lays the blame at the door of the world’s most industrialized nation for their pollution. b) Since the Kyoto protocol they have paid lip service to remedying the situation, which unfortunately affects developing nations more adversely. c) COP 21 was the first serious commitment that these leaders made to ensure that global temperatures do not rise above 2°C and indeed are reduced to 1.5°C.
I am proud that Nigeria was not missing at this historic moment. When the planet is saved, the next and future generations of Nigerians will recall that PMB was present, when all of the world leaders were present to save the planet. d) In the aftermath of COP 21, the commitment of these nations is to increase production and technology for renewable energy and to reduce the use of carbon fuels. One way they plan to achieve this is increased deployment of nuclear energy. e) These nations are at the cusp of sharing safe nuclear technology for peaceful uses with developing nations for power generation. This for me was reason enough and a good one at that for PMB to be in the USA because Nigeria has been pursuing a nuclear power program for about 17 years, not as an alternative to gas or Hydro, but as additions to them. The world leaders must trust you for you to partake. At that summit, in the group photograph, PMB stood on the second row along side Britain and Turkey. In the past, we used to be on the last row. This is CHANGE.
As he meets with world leaders outside Africa, he has not forgotten the home front. He is regularly visiting and receiving his sister and brother presidents on the African continent. PMB has earned their trust for all of us and I am proud to carry my green passport. Yes, some results are not yet manifest, and may take a little while to do so, but a solid foundation for a sustainable, respectable and prosperous future is being laid, block-by-block. This is how to build a solid “home” from whence we can project respect abroad with confidence. How many of us will do business with total strangers without a reference or a good reputation in this age of due diligence?
is building affiliations everywhere that if well-managed in future, will develop into a global network of friendships, trust and respect for Nigeria and Nigerians. I once heard that the role of a leader, like that of the head of a family, is that of an aggregator, opening doors and opportunities, breaking down barriers and forging alliances. I agree. This is my Takeaway on these trips.
• Fashola, SAN is Minister of Works, Housing and Power