By Jiang Xuan from People’s Daily
“Bilateral relations between Nigeria and China have reached a new level, and I expect more opportunities in the Beijing Summit of FOCAC.,” said Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, during a written interview before kicking off his visit to China for the FOCAC Beijing Summit.
Nigeria and China established diplomatic relations on February 10, 1971. Since then, the relationship has been growing. “Now, it is at a very satisfactory win-win level,” Buhari said, “There always exists mutual respect between our two countries, and things have been taken several notches higher since 2015.”
Buhari came into office in May 2015, and he was determined to fulfil the election promises of securing the country, fighting against corruption, and reviving the economy, so that jobs could be provided for teeming Nigeria youths. He found that China was a willing ally in Nigerians’ developmental efforts, so the government embraced the opportunities that the foreign relationship offered to reverse Nigerian infrastructural deficits.
Buhari pointed out that Nigeria had deficiencies in roads, rail, power, agriculture, healthcare, and China advanced well in all those areas. “So in the best interest of Nigeria and her people, we took the helping hand offered by China through assistance for development, and they are progressing well now. Many projects are on stream, in different sectors like road, rail, power, health, agriculture, while some others are in the pipeline. In fact, our immense gratitude goes to China for all the support given us. ” Buhari said.
As Buhari mentioned, China helped them with as much as 85 per cent payment and soft loans that span 20 years. He stressed, “No other country has done that for us. The healthy and growing diplomatic relations with China has been most beneficial to Nigeria.”
Speaking of expectations at the FOCAC Beijing summit, Buhari noted this would be his second time of attending the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the first in South Africa in 2015. He met with President Xi Jinping at the forum, and they held bilateral meetings, leading to his visit to China in 2016. It opened doors of diverse opportunities to the two countries, Mr. president said. He expected more from FOCAC 2018. He looked forward to a consolidation of win-win relationship, and consummation of the agreements they had entered into, as well as the signing of new ones. He stated, “On our part, we will always strive to keep our side of the bargain in the counterpart funding, and we are grateful to China for always being true to its promises. FOCAC is a veritable opportunity for Nigeria, and African countries in general, to attract development, and improve the quality of lives of their people.”
Buhari also showed a high willingness to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. He stressed, “About 90 countries have signed agreements with China on that initiative, and Nigeria as a part of the global community cannot be left out. We will actively join the Belt and Road Initiative.”
This year, 2018, marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. Buhari deemed the strides taken between 1978 and now had really been gigantic, and China took hundreds of people out of mass poverty, achieved feats in technological development, built a resilient economy, and transformed itself into a land that Chinese people were proud of.
Buhari said, “It is very impressive, and I fully appreciate the leadership that has made this happen within four decades. ” Buhari thought it showed that, for a country to attain her place in development, it needed focused and committed leadership. “China has shown the world how to do it, and Nigeria, indeed, Africa, should learn from it. It can also be done in Nigeria, and all over Africa. We all have learnt from the opening-up policy of China, and the good that has come from it.” he stressed.
“I am satisfied with the mutually beneficial cooperation between Nigeria and China,” Buhari said.