Fashola Defends Buhari’s Foreign Trips, Says Rewards Coming Soon

Babatunde Fashola
Babatunde Fashola

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has assured that Nigerians would soon reap the rewards of President Buhammadu Buhari’s foreign trips.

The President has come under strong criticisms following his several trips outside the country since coming to power but Fashola believes the travels are in line with the pre-election campaign messages of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

In a statement he personally issued on Monday titled, “President Buhari’s Foreign Trips – My Takeaway”, the minister, a former governor of Lagos State, said that with the reputation Nigeria had attained in the past, the President could not have delegated the duty of fixing the country’s image to just anyone.

“Barely 2 decades ago (between 1994 and 1998) we would not have quarreled with the description that we were a pariah nation.

“We were ostracized from global events because of bad governance. We had lost the respect accorded Nations like ours were they well-led and well-run,” he stated.

During his campaign in Lagos, Fashola said, Buhari promised to make Nigerians proud of the green card and this was captured in the APC’s manifesto on Foreign Relations.

“(He promised to) make the Nigerian national interest the overriding factor in its foreign policy and international relations; work to reform global governance in multilateral institutions and agencies; work to strengthen the African Union to become a more effective organization on global affairs; engage the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on the basis of equality, and; play a leadership role to develop a MINT (Mexico, India, Nigeria, and Turkey) as a counterforce to BRICS,” he explained.

Fashola singled out six trips – G7 Summit in Germany, COP 21 climate change meeting in France, Oil and Gas Summit in Iran, Renewable Energy Conference in Abu Dhabi, the Nuclear Energy Summit in the U.S., and the State visit and Business Forum in China – as key in the President’s move to bring the promised change to Nigeria.

On the G7 Summit, a meeting of highly industrialised countries, the former governor said the Buhari was invited by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, alongside a handful of other African leaders. With the Summit’s focus on global security, global economy and global health in the aftermath of Ebola, it was important that Nigeria honoured the invitation by sending her number one citizen.

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“They look after each other, and the rest of the world to put it simply.

They have gone to war together if you remember Iraq and Libya in recent memory and they are all largely collaborating to fight terror. (Most recently the FBI was rendering assistance to Belgium in the aftermath of the terror attacks in that Country),” Fashola noted, adding that President Buhari was given the unusual honour being the first to address the meeting.

“President Obama was the first G7 member to speak after PMB and he said that Nigeria has elected a President that brings a reputation of scrupulous integrity to the table. I was proud to be a Nigerian.

“They pledged support for Nigeria on Terror and the Economy. If the seven most powerful nations stand with you, who can stand against you?”

According to Fashola, the President was able to persuade Iran, which is the world’s 7th largest producer of oil, at the Oil and Gas Summit, to come into the oil market gradually instead of flooding it with oil following the lifting of global sanctions.

“You can’t do that type of diplomacy by letter or by phone, in my view, not when the major players were all there in person,” he opined.

President Buhari’s trip to the Abu Dhabi Renewable Energy meeting will yield positive outcome to Nigeria, especially with regards to stolen wealth stashed there by Nigerians, he posited.

Aside this, the minister stated, the Nigerian delegation to the summit “learned about initiatives to bring solar power price down to 5 (Five) US cents per kilowatt hour, (approximately N10) as against the price of 17 (seventeen) US cents (N34) per KW/h tariff in Nigeria fixed at privatization by the last Government.”

Another take away from that meeting was how different regions in the country can best be served in term of power supply. While solar and hydro will be deployed in the north, according to the minister, the Middle Belt will benefit from coal and hydro while gas will sustain the south.

The biggest benefit so far seems to come from the recent state visit to China, where a number of deals were signed, including agriculture, infrastructure, mining, and the much talked about Naira-Yuan foreign exchange deal.




     

     

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    Prominent investors such as Dangote Group, Erisco Foods and others in the power sector accompanied the President and were able to get deals with their Chinese counterparts, something Fashola said the country will greatly benefit from.

    “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.

    “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.

    “PMB 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,” he concluded.

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