The former President of Nigeria, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) has thanked the People’s Republic of China for being of great help to African development and advancement.
Gen. Gowon who made this known at the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria diplomatic relations with the theme: “Nigeria-China at 50: Reflections and the way forward” organized by Center for China Studies (CCS) with the support from Chinese Embassy in Abuja said he is glad to have something to do with China-Nigeria relations.
While congratulating the Chinese leadership both past and present and peoples of China for the monumental progress they have made in these 50 years, he noted they have developed from an almost rural economy to the present advance world technologically economy and being of great help to all Africans.
Gowon who recalled with pride and joy, the productive contacts and engagements from 1966 that preceded the final outcome of the bilateral relations in 1971 noted that Yang Qiliang was China’s first representative in Nigeria followed by Li Sen Yi.
Gowon in his virtual speech said the two countries worked closely together to ensure the success of the new relationship and noted that it was not long Nigeria help see China’s admission to the United Nations (UN) as both member of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
His words, “That ultimately earned Nigeria a welcome State visit to Beijing/China in 1974. It was a most successful visit that firmly established the bilateral relationship between our two countries. It included a rare visit to Chairman Mao at his home by the Nigerian delegation led by me, my wife Victoria, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Okoi Arikpo, the Permanent Secretary and Nigerian First Ambassador to China, Aminu Sanusi. We ended the visit signing a number of agreements, especially in Agriculture, Trade and Communications etc. Succeeding generations/governments expended the areas of agreement to what is today.
“My memory of that visit was very different from the subsequent visits to China 20 years later. The change form a near rural look, narrow road filled with bicycles and people in uniform blue tunic like dress and the red booklet that guided the life of the Chinese people at the time, to now, a city of sky scrapers, wide express roads, 3-5 Star Hotels, a total change that beats man’s imagination.
“It was marvelous to see the change, all worth emulating. I am sure succeeding Nigerians envoys and leadership will speak more about their experience to date”.
Also in his presentation, Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Hon. Yusuf Buba represented by Hon. Princess Mariam said that the relationship has built China African community with a shared future that assumes joint responsibility, pursues win win cooperation, delivers happiness for all, enjoys cultural prosperity, ensures common security and promotes harmony between man and nature.
Charge’ d’ Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, Mr. Zhao Yong said the 50 years relations with Nigeria have witnessed increasingly enhanced political trust, especially in 2015 where strategic partnership based on mutual political trust, economic benefits and assistance in international affairs was established between the two countries.
President of China General Chamber of Commerce, Nigeria, Engr. Ye Shuijin who thanked the organizers for inviting the chamber said there is need for more synergy to boost the relations. He informed that Chinese companies in Nigeria have employed almost one million locals and have delivered greatly in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which has greatly influenced People-To-People Contact.
Representative of the Foreign Ministry and Acting Director of Asia-Pacific Division, Mrs. Aisha Dewa said that China, Nigeria relation has been quite beneficial in the area of capacity building. She noted that China has provided scholarship to Nigerians and given technical aids to Nigerian military.
Director of Centre for China Studies (CCS), Mr. Charles Onunaiju noted that Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has nurtured Nigeria-China Cooperation into the expensive multilateralism, catapulting Africa to the centre stage of contemporary global multilateral diplomacy.