President Muhammadu Buhari’s foreign trips are not for ‘sightseeing’ but justified by outcomes. This was the position of his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
Mr. Shehu who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics explained that Nigeria’s economy needs the trips owing to President Buhari’s personality globally and the desire of other presidents and key business investors to show a willingness to do business with him.
President Buhari since May 30, has embarked on eight different trips which include; Saudi Arabia, Japan, Burkina Faso, New York, South Africa, Russia, Saudi Arabi, and the United Kingdom.
His most recent trip, a private one to the United Kingdom, according to Mr. Shehu, is partly for vacation and also for work.
“The President’s trips are not sightseeing trips, they are justified by outcomes. In each of the trips, we try to let Nigerians know what the things the president has achieved; and so, we are making progress, the economy needs the trips because much of it actually comes on account of who the president is.
“They (investors) are looking at a serious man and are ready to do business with him; I think Nigerians should comfort themselves in the fact that they have a President who is respected around the globe and the name of whom can fetch a lot of good things for Nigerians.
“He is on a private trip outside the country, partly on vacation, partly at work. The constitution of Nigeria is very clear that 21 days is the period of absence which cannot be justified,” he clarified.
Mr. Shehu added that President Buhari’s trip is only for 17 days, from which he will be doing government work by signing an important bill for the country from where he is.
On the Nigeria-Saudi Arabia, Strategic Council Mr. Shehu revealed that the Federal Government will be appointing representatives made up of businessmen and government officials who will sit down and agree on investments based on priorities.
He stated that priority will be given to gas pipeline the Federal Government has ensured that the construction of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline, which is a 614km-long natural gas pipeline be developed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“This council will start sitting in 2 months which in effect means that we will be making the appointments in the coming days and they will decide when this works will begin.
“It could be about refineries or some others, but the big thing we are eyeing is the gas pipeline that will bring the enormous gas access in the country; the government has approved the construction of the AKK pipeline, that is; Ajaokuta, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano and we will be looking for money for that and all these would be high investments in oil and gas and also non-oil sectors and the opportunities are enormous and it’s for us to see which way to go.”
He explained further that the meeting with the leadership of the Saudi Oil and Gas group, the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, and the Public Investment Fund, does not mean the deal will be done for free, despite the massive wealth linked the Arab group.
“This is certainly not going to be free money when you are talking to the Sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia with enormous powers. The chairman can decide to put $5bn in a country in a month and they will be investing, partnering, again, it’s a matter of time, the discussions we will undertake will determine how we will go.”