Buhari’s Trip To China, Long Journey, Many Gains Critical To Nigeria’s Economic Devt And Its Diversification By Aliyu Abdullah
Many will question why President Muhammadu Buhari will embark on a State visit to China this coming Sunday, some will argue that he just came back from the United States of America few days ago after a successful Nuclear Summit where more than 60 World Leaders gathered to discuss the future of a Nuclear Free World and the potentials of Nuclear Energy to a developing Country like Nigeria, some may argue on the cost of these trips, some will reiterate that the Budget which details was just transmitted to the President by the National Assembly has not been assented by the President as the reason why the President should not travel, some will just grumble as usual just as the wailing wailers normally do whenever the President travels out which some of us have come to accept as a new way of opposition politics. However, what many will not do is to carefully articulate the real reasons and gains of the president’s trip to China, hence this writer decides to highlight but a few gains of the China trip.
The Relationship between Nigeria and China started developing with the advent of Military Rule in Nigeria, like any “Challenge” there lies an “Opportunity” that was the consequence of an International isolation and Western Condemnation of Nigeria’s Military Rule. Nigeria has since become an important source of oil and petroleum to China’s rapid growing Economy. China on the other hand has provided extensive economic, military and Political Support to Nigeria. It was reported that from 2000 to date, there was 40 official Chinese Developmental finance projects identified. These projects range from Nigerian Rail of about $2.5 Billion, to Power and ICT sectors.
The Nigeria Chinese relationship is a very important one for so many reasons, Nigeria is currently the 3rd largest trading Nation to China in Africa, 85% of Nigerians viewed Chinese trade relationship with Nigeria as positive making Nigeria a pro China Country according to a BBC Report in 2014.
RAIL TRANSPORTATION: The Loan Facility and undertaking for the execution of the contract for various Rail Projects in Nigeria started sometimes during the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime to the recent past administration of Goodluck Jonathan. This Dream Project recorded a mixed story of slow progress and rapid retrogress due to either unfavorable “Terms” negotiated by the Nigerian Government, or corruption rearing its ugly head against the Nation’s interest, for these and many other reasons, the Nigerian Rail Project became largely unsuccessful.
After the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari into office he vowed to tackle the issue of Rail Transportation heads on as he sees it as a catalyst for his economic plans and diversification, for that, Nigeria needs to have its rail transportation back on track otherwise the Governments plans to diversify its economy to Agriculture and Solid Minerals will become a mirage and theoretical at best. The Country needs the Rail Line to move Agricultural Produce/Extracts of Minerals from all parts of the Country to Port Cities which are located in the South Western City of Lagos, Southern Cities of Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri and Sapele respectively for onward export in order to earn Foreign Exchange and a positive balance of payment for Nigeria. This for sure is one certain way for economic development of the Country.
The Present Government after reviewing all the efforts of past Governments in reviving the ailing Rail sector reached the inevitable decision to continue with China for the Loan Facility and execution of the Rail Project but on a much better negotiated terms and conditions than what the previous Government had conceded. Terms of the facility such as the Moratorium and Repayment Period are considered to be extended over a much longer period of time, specifications of the Machines, equipment and Technical Agreement to a more sophisticated and World Modern against an obsolete technology like it was under the past Agreement.
The Power Project is one important reason for a high level diplomatic mission to China by the Nigerian Government, the Mambilla Hydro Power Project which is capable of generating about 2600 Megawatts of electricity will if completed be the biggest Dam in Africa, like the Rail Project, the Mambilla Hydro Project was conceived many years ago, precisely in 1982. A Memorandum of Agreement was signed in 2012 between Nigeria and a Chinese company, Sinohydro Corporation and that same agreement was cancelled in 2013 by the then Nigerian Government. China Exim Bank was supposed to be the main financier of that expensive and ambitious project of $1 Billion. Once again corruption within the Nigerian Government stopped the Project from becoming a reality and success story. President Buhari is determined to see that this project is revived, executed and Nigeria’s Power generation capacity boosted for the much desired growth and development of the Country.
The President’s trip to China this coming Sunday is to accord these important projects and many numerous trade and other bilateral agreements priority of the highest order and respect. The trade relationship between the 2 countries and its people is very significant and one cannot but accept that China is the largest Economy in the World today, and even right to say more important Nation to Nigeria in the pursuit of economic growth and development, and if so I ask who best to lead this high diplomatic meeting than the Chief Executive of the Nation.
I remember vividly clear like today when some years ago, the erudite Professor Akin Oyebode of the University of Lagos taught us Jurisprudence and international Law, a course normally taken by 500 level (final year) law students, after his favorite tour of Egypt as the first citadel of civilization and land of the Black, the Prof. will normally venture directly to China’s jurisprudence to touch on the Chinese concept of “Li” which commands total obedience to the rule of law through etiquette and respect as against the concept of “Fa” that criminalizes certain unaccepted behaviors, as to do wrong is to likened to self condemnation.
In China, the “Li” concept is significant to self respect and respect to others, the Chinese do not take the issue of respect lightly, it is central to all their actions, and as such a Head of Country’s visit is of enormous importance and the highest level of respect to the Chinese. Therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari in travelling to China has invoked to concept of “Li” which the Chinese are obligated to respond in kind and render all necessary assistance to the economic development of Nigeria. In any event, an economic prosperous Nigeria is a win for China, a bigger Economy and a higher purchasing power for its products.
Barr. Aliyu Abdullah,
A Legal Practitioner and Public Affairs Analyst writes from Abuja
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