Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, sought the Chinese Government’s support for the speedy completion of the Mambilla power project in Taraba State.
The Federal Government and Chinese contractors signed a N2.1 trillion (about $5.792 billion) contract deal in Abuja to execute the 3050 megawatts (MW) Mambilla hydropower project in November 2017.
The project had its first contract awarded in 2007 under President Olusegun Obasanjo government but was cancelled by the Yar’Adua administration.
The project is about 40 years since its idea was conceived.
President Buhari made the call at the signing of bilateral agreement between himself and President Xi Jinping of China on the sideline of the 74th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), in Beijing.
The President, while commending the Chinese Government for its support for the development infrastructure in Nigerian, said his administration was looking at a concessionaires loans to complete the project.
The President noted that with the reviewed bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and China, majority of citizens from both countries see improvement in their living conditions.
The president commended President Xi for successfully hosting the FOCAC summit which brought together African leaders and business entrepreneurs for a win-win dialogue.
President Buhari noted that the FOCAC summit and its outcome “has provided the platform for a very prosperous future for the two billion Chinese and African citizens. Nigeria and China have come a long way, our journey has being that of mutual respect and support,” he said.
President Buhari explained that China in the last two years has supported Nigeria in training of security personnel, agricultural modernisation and provision of concessional loans which have impacted on the economy.
He noted that “In the past 24 months, the Chinese government has provided humanitarian aid to our conflict areas, scholarships to Nigerian youth, military training and security support to our personnel, agriculture modernization training, and concession army loans to fund critical infrastructural projects.
“These interventions have positively impacted on millions of Nigerians and will continue to do so for generations to come. Mr. Premier, earlier today, I solicited the support of President Xi on the Mambilla hydro project which remains a key priority to Nigeria.
“Our wish is to fund this project with concessionaire loans from China. I will also take this opportunity to appeal to your good office to support this project. President Xi and I also witnessed the signing of the belt and road initiative agreements by Nigeria which I strongly believe will set the foundation for many centuries and mutually beneficial relationship.” Buhari said.
A copy of an agreement signed between Nigeria and China for the ICT sector which was reads in part; “The Chinese government agrees that the Export-Import Bank of China (the creditor) provides for the government of the federal republic of Nigeria (the creditor) Represented by the federal ministry of finance of Nigeria with a concessional loan (herein referred to as “the loan”) of Renminbi Two Billion.
“Three Hundred Million Yuan Only (¥2,300,000,000.00) which shall be utilized to implement the National Information and Communication Technology Infrstructure Backbone Phase II Project. The interest subsidized for the loan shall be paid directly to the Export-Import Bank of China by the Chinese government.”
In a related development, President Buhari also met with the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who expressed happiness with the Federal Government desire for stronger partnership.
He reiterated that as the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria has a viable market that is good for the kind cooperation between established by China.
“I am very happy to see you again. Nigeria is very important country in Africa with the highest population in the continent. There has been a steady growth of our political relationship and our practical cooperation has also been growing from strength to strength.
“Several years ago, I paid a visit to Nigeria and I was deeply impressed by the tremendous potentials of your market and your strong desire for closer cooperation with China. Iam confident that your visit his time will lend new impetus to our bilateral relationship to deliver benefits to both sides,” Li said.