**As President Jinping pledges more investments in Nigeria’s power generation*
In what could best be described as a major milestone for Nigeria at the ongoing Belt and Road Initiative Forum (BRI) in Beijing, China has committed to refinancing and completing the Abuja-Kano and Port- Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects.
President of Peoples Republic of China, Xi Jinping, made the pledge today while responding to requests made by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who, was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, at a bilateral meeting with the Chinese leader in Beijing.
It would be recalled that since the launch of the projects, China is yet to release funds for the two major railway projects in Nigeria largely due to cutbacks and commitments.
China had agreed to provide 85 per cent financing for the construction of the Abuja-Kano and Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects, while Nigeria which had the duty of paying the balance 15% paid its part of the funding from inception of the project through appropriations.
The crucial infrastructure also termed a legacy project has the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation as the contractors named to execute the project.
The Chinese President who was visibly elated to receive the Nigerian delegation led by Vice President Shettima at the Peoples Building in China, pledged increased investment in Nigeria’s power generation and digital economy called for the protection of Chinese nationals working in Nigeria, saying he would, in turn, ensure that the Nigeria-China bilateral relation is stronger than before.
President Jinping promised that China will enhance political support and build cooperations in all fields, just as he appreciated Nigeria’s support of one China Policy.
Pledging to further deepen practical cooperations, the Chinese leader threw his weight of support behind the Renewed Hope Manifesto of President Bola Tinubu and his 8-point economic agenda adding that China will support Nigeria’s exports, especially as it relates to peanuts and others, even as the China – Africa talent initiative remains key in its cooperation with Nigeria.
In the area of security, President Jinping promised continued crackdown on terrorists, assuring categorically that China is committed to peace in the Sahel region, more so that its long-standing military trainings and MoUs on joint exercises remain sacrosanct.
Noting that China is committed to peace, President Jinping said, “Like President Bola Ahmed Tinubu stated recently at the last United Nations General Assembly, Africa does not need to run away. Africa holds the key to the World. We support Nigeria to play key roles in international relations and upholding allies’ commitments.
“Mr Vice President, you spoke about upscaling and further upgrading of our strategic relationship, and I totally agree with you. Nigeria is developing with big potentials. I totally agree with you. Our foreign Ambassadors can stay and work out this upgrading”.
Speaking earlier, Vice President Shettima who delivered the well-wishes of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu described the rail projects as very vital to the President and people of Nigeria, saying it remained a legacy project that would further open up the nation’s economy, create jobs and boost trade and investments across the country.
The vice President said President Tinubu remains committed to a stronger Nigeria – China tie, addng that it was laddened with respect, non-political interference and mutual international cooperations.
“Our relationship commenced about 50 years ago, precisely in 1971 and it has been upgraded to a comprehensive partnership but we crave your indulgence, Your Excellency, to further upgrade this relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership because of the importance we attach to our relationship with China.
“When we met in South Africa at the China Plus 1 summit I was very honest and upright with you. Beyond the infrastructural support we are getting; why we love, cherish and respect China is that you treat us with respect and dignity. You don’t dictate to us who our friends are. We don’t forget our friends. China stood by us through thick and thin from the post-colonial struggles for independence in Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, the struggle for the emancipation of our people in Southern Africa; China stood shoulder to shoulder with the African continent, we thus appreciate your friendship,” VP Kashim submitted.
President Jinping had before his audience with Vice President Kashim Shettima formally declared the Forum which had numerous heads of states and top government officials open.
Nigeria Will Leverage On Ties With China To Improve Digital Space, Says VP Shettima
Meanwhile, Vice President Kashim Shettima today said Nigeria will leverage its relationship with China to adopt programmes that will improve the country’s digital space, among other benefits.
Sen. Shettima also assured member countries of the Belt and Road Initiative of Nigeria’s readiness to “collaborate with the group and other emerging markets to bring about a positive shift in the growth and development of global economies.”
The Vice President stated these in his keynote address themed, “Digital Economy As A New Source Of Growth”, delivered during the High-Level Forum at the onging 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China.
The Vice President who spoke on Nigeria’s efforts at leveraging collaborations with partners to deploy technology in addressing some of its challenges, noted: “We are keen on using the instrumentality of the existing robust Nigeria-China bilateral relations to maximally key into projects under the platform of the Digital Silk Road for the improvement of our digital space.”
Speaking about Nigeria’s efforts in leveraging the digital space to create jobs and diversify the economy, Sen. Shettima said, “Nigeria has recorded a number of achievements including a digitalized public service, developed banking and e-payment systems, electoral reforms through the introduction of the electronic registration of voters and e-transmission of votes, thus creating ripple effects of job creation and human capacity building opportunities for our teeming youth population.”
Continuing, the VP said, “We have recently unveiled the new strategic blueprint, accelerating our collective prosperity through technical, as part of the Federal Government’s initiative to accelerate the diversification of the Nigerian economy by enhancing productivity in critical sectors through technological innovation.”
He added: “Through this strategic blue print, the Federal Government aims to achieve three key objectives namely: Accelerate the growth of Nigeria as a global technical talent hub and net exporter of talent. One of the goals of this talent hub is to train three million early to mid-career technical talents throughout the next four years (2022-2027); Deepen and accelerate’its position in global research in key technology areas; and Raise the complexity and dynamics of Nigeria’s economy by significantly increasing the level of digital literacy across the country.”
The Vice President also spoke about Nigeria’s broadband penetration rate from 50 to 70 per cent by the end of 2025 and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s domestic card scheme code named “Afri Go” to rival foreign cards like Master and Visa cards, and stregthen the national payment system.
The Vice President was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar; Minister of Power, Mr Adebayo Adelabu; Minister of Transportation, Mr Saidu Alkali; Ambassador of Nigeria to China, Baba Ahmad Jidda and others.
*Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Communications*
*(Office of the Vice President)*
*18th October, 2023*