President Muhammadu Buhari has won the crucial support of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, for the country’s aspiration to build the 3050 Megawatts Mambilla hydroelectric power project.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
He revealed that Nigeria and China also signed the agreement of 328 million dollars for the Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II (NICTIB II) project.
The concessional loan agreement between Galaxy Backbone Limited and Huawei Technologies Limited (HUAWEI) was signed by Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kemi Adesoun, and Wang Xiaotoa, Director-General, International Development Agency, in the presence of Buhari and Jinping.
The presidential aide disclosed that Nigeria and China also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR).
He said Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama and He Lifeng, Director, China’s National Development and Reform Commission, signed the OBOR.
According to him, OBOR is an initiative of President Xi which focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among multiple countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.
Earlier during his meeting with President Xi, the Nigerian leader, while commending the Chinese government for successfully hosting the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), solicited support for the Mambilla hydropower project.
He noted that Mambilla project had remained a key priority to Nigeria.
Buhari also sought additional Chinese funding for four airport terminal projects as well as the Abuja light rail project.
He told his Chinese counterpart that since his last visit to China in 2016, the brotherly relationship between both countries had continued to flourish.
“In the past 24 months, the Chinese Government has provided humanitarian aid to our conflict-affected areas, scholarship to Nigerian youth, military training and security support to our personnel and agricultural modernization training,’’ he said.
Buhari noted that in the period under review, China had provided concessionary loans to fund critical infrastructure projects in Nigeria.
He added that these interventions had positively impacted millions of Nigerians and would continue to do so for generations to come.
“Mr President, as we celebrate these successes, I would like to once again solicit your support for the Mambilla Hydropower Project which remains a key priority for my government.
“Our hope is to fund the project with concessionary loans from China as any alternative funding arrangement will adversely impact the project’s viability.
“We have been informed that our submission on this project is undergoing assessment by the relevant Chinese agencies.
“We hope with your kind intervention, this assessment will be expedited. Your Excellency, Mambilla is Nigeria’s equivalent of the three gorges dam. My wish is that you join me for the groundbreaking ceremony of this project in the not too distant future,’’ he said.
On Lake Chad Basin, the president thanked China for accepting to support the international efforts to recharge the Lake.
He said: “The inclusion of this project in the FOCAC Action Plan 2019 to 2021 will go a long way in supporting our efforts to rehabilitate and resettle the conflict-impacted North East region.’’
On people-to-people relations, Buhari told his host that in the course of his visit, he interacted with Nigerian students and entrepreneurs living in different parts of China.
“I was very pleased to hear about the positive experiences these hard working and law abiding citizens are having in their host communities. I also had the pleasure of meeting young Chinese students learning three Nigerian languages.
“We must continue to support such exchange programmes to enhance our people-to-people contacts,’’ he said.
Responding, the Chinese leader, Xi Jiping told President Buhari: “We understand how critical the project is to your country and we will take a serious look at it and ensure that it succeeds because of its social and economic benefits,”