Ajuri Ngelale, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Public Matters, says Nigerians are benefitting from the impact of the President’s foreign trips.
Recall that the president had come under attack over his alleged frequent foreign trips.
However, Mr Ngelale, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, said: “Those trips have been extremely productive”.
He described the President as a leader known by other nations as an incorruptible and credible leader.
“We are now benefiting from the goodwill of the president largely because of the fact that the world knows that this is an incorruptible leader – a leader with credibility and integrity.
“And Nigerians are now benefiting from that,” he said.
Mr Ngelale expressed optimism that President Buhari’s foreign trips would yield positive results in the form of a stronger national economy by virtue of the bilateral agreements he signed Nigeria into.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s excursions to the Russian Federation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been very much in the interest of the country.
“I say that because when you look at the derivables from those trips, you will realise the extent to which those trips have now added value to our nation’s economy.
“Specifically, we are really excited about the Russian trip because we had a lot of series of negotiations that culminated in agreements that we have now signed bilaterally which are all government-to-government transactions,” he said.
The presidential aide said that some of the sectors that would directly benefit from the bilateral agreements are solid minerals development, transport, iron ore mining, and defence.
In the solid minerals sector, the Ajaokuta Steel Company will be resuscitated via a one-billion-dollar facility that would be shared by the Russian Federation, the Nigerian government, and the Afrexim Bank.
According to him, in doing so, Nigeria will be able to revitalise the steel complex and stop the importation of steel.
“We seek to industrialise our country and employ our people and lift our people out of poverty.
“We’ll finally be able to produce our own steel,” he said.
Ngelale added that the Buhari administration had prioritised the revival of the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO, in Itapke, Kogi state.
“So there’s a 400-million-dollar facility separate for NIOMCO for the revival of NIOMCO so that we have that iron ore supply to Ajaokuta for steel development,” he said.
According to Ngelale, an agreement struck with the Russian government will see that country supplying Nigeria with 12 M1-35 attack helicopters which will be used in tackling security challenges confronting the country.
“These are heavily weaponised, very stealthy, very fast attack-helicopters which will make a difference in terms of anti-piracy.
“We are going to be getting some physical infrastructure from them in terms of gunboats, gunships, and things that will help secure our maritime territory, our coastal waters.
“We are going to be building train cars in Nigeria thereby decongesting the ports, and taking the pressure off the roads,” he said, adding that Russian and Nigerian geoscientists would work closely to geologically map the country in a move aimed at developing the gemstone mining sector.
The geological mapping of the country is expected to identify the location, mass, and form that the solid minerals are in order to motivate investors and attract investments in mining, a development that will create millions of jobs for the people.
The presidential aide said that Nigeria and Saudi Arabia had agreed to bring together top government officials that would look at viable areas of collaboration particularly in the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy.
He said that a Nigeria-Saudi Council would be established toward that end.
Saudi Arabia’s Aramco (the world’s topmost oil and gas company) is willing to help with refinery rehabilitation, pipeline construction, the building of world-class hospitals, for the benefit of Nigerians.