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Buhari China delegation

Between Buhari’s delegation to China and May, Merkels’ team to Nigeria; Lessons

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Though the Prime Minister of Britain, Mrs. Theresa May and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel have come and gone, it is important to review the makeup of their teams to Nigeria and place them side by side with President Muhammadu Buhari’s delegation to the recent Forum of China and Africa Conference (FOCAC).

First of all, on Wednesday the 29th of August, 2018, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, visited Nigeria with a plane full of business people to help Britain make money in Nigeria. So meticulously choreographed was her visit that she came with businessmen and women that sold or manufactured every item you could imagine from air fresheners to Scotch whiskey.

Mrs. May clearly demonstrated the main thrust of her visit by travelling with David Schwimmer, the Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Her entourage to Nigeria was chockfull of business and industry folk and very lean on civil servants and politicians.

According to Mr. Reno Omokri, “In fact, only two members of her cabinet joined her on her African trip. If there was any spare space on the Royal Airforce Jet that flew her to Africa, that space was reserved for people who could bring jobs and capital to Britain”.

“Even though a day earlier, Mrs. May had regretted that Nigeria is home to the largest number of extremely poor people in the world, she still took her time to meet the few extremely rich people in Nigeria and introduced them to the businesspeople on her entourage.

‘She met for 40 minutes with an assortment of Nigerian business leaders like Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, along with Femi Otedola and Tony Elumelu. Mrs. May did not come to play. She came to pay. Pay Britain mind you. Not Nigeria.

Two days after her visit, German leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, flew into Nigeria with a strong business team.

The strategic importance of her trip was made clearly when Nigeria’s ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, was asked why Mrs Merkel was visiting Nigeria.

His answers were touching as he averred that “She is coming with a business delegation which is very important. We have strong economic relations with Germany over the years. But one of the major challenges in recent times has been how to attract German medium-size businesses to invest in Nigeria.”

Omokri added that Mrs Merkel led a “business delegation” to Nigeria, not a political delegation, even though the Mediterranean Migrant Crisis (please watch my TEDxApata talk on this issue) played heavily on her mind.

However, on Thursday, August 31, 2018, the Nigerian Presidency announced that Muhammadu Buhari, who is the President of Nigeria, the world headquarters for extreme poverty (according to the World Economic Forum and the World Poverty Clock), is on his way to China, the second largest economy on earth.

Expectedly, the Presidency released a list of Mr. Buhari’s entourage and for your benefit, I will simply republish the part of the official statement detailing President Buhari’s entourage below:

“President Buhari will be accompanied to Beijing by his wife, Aisha, who is scheduled to participate in a Spouses’ Programme on China-Africa at the Great Hall of the People, under the theme, “Joining Hands for a Future of AIDS.”

Also on the President’s entourage are Governors Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar (Bauchi), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo).

Others are Senators Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), George Akume (Benue), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto).

Also accompanying the President are: Ministers Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Affairs), Rotimi Amaechi (Transport), Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works and Housing), Muhammad Bello (FCT), Okechukwu Enelamah (Industry, Trade and Investment), Udoma Udo Udoma (Budget and National Planning), Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources); Ibe Kachikwu (State, Petroleum Resources), and Hadi Sirika (State, Aviation).

Others are the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar; and the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru.”

No doubt, there seems to be no business team within the over-bloated delegation to Beijing by the federal government as President Buhari’s entourage is full of his Ministers, Governors, the GMD NNPC and other civil servants. Not ONE business person is on the entourage!

Development economist, Dr. Ken Igboanugo who spoke to Business Hilights on the meaning of the two sets of delegations, decried the scenario and queried why a government that is preaching private sector driven Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) failed to learn from two lessons given to it just few days to its trip to China.

The lesson is very clear, a delegation that should be full of businessmen and women so that Nigerian businesses can tap from their peers experiences in China and build new relations going forward.

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