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Nigerians in China upbeat about Buhari’s visit

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NIDO leader Mbisiogu said the Presidential visit was crucial in the Nigeria-China relations, noting that foreign investment in the power sector was important

Dickson Okafor

As President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposed official visit to China draws near, Nigerians living in the country are upbeat about his coming.

READ ALSO: China renews commitment to deepen investments in Nigeria

They are hoping that the visit would create more opportunities for bilateral agreements and business partnerships.

President Buhari is expected in China early September on a working trip.

Speaking on the trip, the head of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) in Guangzhou Province of China and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Diamond Logistics, China, Mr. Festus Mbisiogu, one of Nigeria’s businessmen based in China, advised President Buhari to, during the visit, woo Chinese investors in the area of electricity management so that Nigeria would get the needed assistance in its effort to revive the power sector.

He commended President Buhari for the success his administration has recorded in ensuring partnership with China, in the area of infrastructure development and currency swap.

Mbisiogu said the federal  government would set the foundation for the attainment of steady power supply in the country if  a state of emergency was declared in the power sector.

According to him, “when this is done, government would make it possible for anything relating to power to be treated with dispatch, including approval for partnership, funds release for equipment and any other thing that would facilitate the revamping of the power sector.”

He said such move would give Chinese investors confidence to bring their money to Nigeria.

The Blue Diamond CEO also reiterated his earlier call on the federal government to review the contract with local investors in the power sector.

He said there was no other appropriate time than now for the government to end electricity problem in the country, adding that recent statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that 7.6 million Nigerians lost their jobs from January to June 2018 because industries were closing down daily as a result of unsteady power supply.

The business mogul cautioned that if the trend is not arrested, Nigeria’s dream of been among the league of industrialist nations would be a mirage.

His Non-Government Organisation, Good Governance Initiative (GGI), has been at the forefront for the actualisation of steady power supply in the country.

Mbisiogu urged President Buhari to engage Chinese investors to partner relevant stakeholders in the power sector to pave way for the achievement of uninterrupted electricity supply before the end of 2019.

He also called on the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to consolidate on the country’s earlier discussion with Chinese investors, during President Buhari’s last visit to China, which resulted in signing of several agreements between Nigeria government and a Chinese firms, North South Power Company Limited and Sinohydro Corporation Limited, which is valued at $479 million for the construction of 300 megawatts solar power in Shiriro, Niger State.

READ ALSO: Epileptic power supply: Fashola, power vendors trade words over inefficiency

He gave a breakdown of Africa-China bilateral cooperation, which according to him, has grown rapidly in the past 40 years with trade leaping from $765 million to $170 billion annually.

Mbisiogu noted that China was Africa’s largest trading partner in spite of high debt rate, yet it is willing to expand its economic relations with African states.

He expressed belief that President Buhari’s proposed visit will afford Nigeria government the privilege to explore opportunity and turn around the nation’s energy sector, saying the visit will also create an avenue for President Buhari to look into the plight of Nigerians residing in China, especially Guangdong Province, where majority are.

 “I will appreciate if Mr. President, being the father of the nation, intervenes on behalf of Nigerians living in Guangdong Province, particularly on issues of visa restrictions to family members and other immigration challenges we are facing,” he said.

While in China,  President Buhari is expected to attend Forum on China-Africa Corporation (FOCAC), which will afford him the chance to woo Chinese investors. Mbisiogu said the Presidential visit was crucial in the Nigeria-China relations, noting that foreign investment in the power sector was important now that the Nigeria Electricity Generation and Distribution Companies (GENCOs), and (DISCOs) have threatened to discontinue operation, on the claims that they were operating at huge losses.

READ ALSO: FOCAC summit: Nigeria-China relations to explore new opportunities—Envoy

Mbisiogu said the electricity companies were overwhelmed by the challenges in the sector as they have no solution to them.

 According to him, Nigeria is yet to meet 4, 402.2 megawatts power generation target as at 2015. He commended the present administration for improving power generation from less than 3,000 in 2016 to 5,000 megawatts in 2018. He however urged President Buhari to intensify effort to get Chinese investors to replicate China’s modern electricity technology in Nigeria.

 He praised the federal government for allowing the electricity companies free hand to operate, but expressed regret that the GENECOs and DISCOs abused the privilege because they have not been able to generate enough power supply.

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