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Buhari Heads for South Africa, to Meet with Chinese Leader

Valentine Chinyem

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President Muhammadu Buhari left for South Africa in the early hours of Thursday, to participate in a Forum on China/Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), scheduled to take place in Johannesburg on December 4 and 5.

President Buhari, would follow up his previous meeting with the Chinese leader, Mr. Xi Jinping, which took place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, according to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

The President had intimated to Xi Jinping, at the meeting in New York, in November, that he would like China to recommence the stalled railway projects under new terms, that would see China providing nearly all the financing required.

The statement cited the coastal railway project stretching for 1,402 kilometres linking Lagos in the west with Calabar in the east, a project that was expected to be financed with a $12 billion Chinese loan and would create about 200,000 jobs.

Garba said: “Another rail project that will be up for renegotiation is the $8.3 billion Lagos-Kano standard gauge modernisation project, of which only a segment, Kaduna-Abuja, has reached completion stage.

“Buhari is also expected to discuss ways of removing all obstacles in the way of the 3,050MW Mambila power station, considered a strategic project which was conceived in 1982 but has not taken off.”

The statement said the Chinese president had informed Buhari of the willingness of his country to finance the whole project through a special loan agreement.

The president, who will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema; Minister of Transportation, Chubuike Amaechi; and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, will return to Abuja on Saturday.