The Minister, while interacting with staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Beijing, said Nigeria’s relationship with China was very important and those representing the country must do the needful to enhance the relationship because Nigeria has a lot to learn from the Chinese, particularly how they were able to transform their country within a short space of time.
He noted that China was able to convert its large population into strength and used it to transform the country into one of the largest economies of the world; pointing out that Nigeria has similar attributes with China, its greatest asset being the people.
Senator Udoma emphasized that Nigerians are great people with great potentials, and therefore urged Nigerians to believe in themselves and in their country; and in their capacity to turn challenges into opportunities. They should be patriotic and patronize made-in-Nigeria goods.
These, he said, have the capacity to turn the economy of the country around, particularly with massive investments in infrastructure. “Infrastructure is the most important agent of development”, he pointed out.
Explaining Nigeria’s focus at the coordinator’s meeting of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the Minister said Nigeria’s interest is in seeking financing support for rail, roads and power. “To seek support for Nigeria’s infrastructure development and in the process make the country a better partner, and enhance our ability to trade on mutually beneficial levels”.
He explained that the result of his meetings with key players in the Chinese government since his arrival in Beijing will help to strengthen the Nigerian economy, and in the process turn the challenges the country is currently facing into opportunities.
China had promised and is committed to spend $60bn in grants and loans for African countries. Interested countries appointed coordinators to liaise with the Chinese Government. The coordinators made a case for their respective countries.
“We are trying to get as much as possible for Nigeria. We made a very strong case for Nigeria infrastructure projects, a strong case for railway projects and power projects. It was very well received, and there were very positive signals that there is going to be strong support for Nigeria. So, we have to come back to finalize the fine points”, Senator Udoma explained.
The Minister is optimistic that when the railways and roads are completed, the boost to the Nigerian economy will enhance the country’s capacity to industrialize, boost manufacturing capacity and, coupled with the ease of doing business, increase exports to China.
“We made the point to them that we want this to be a win-win partnership, so that the balance of trade which right now favours China, we will narrow that balance of trade. And so, these investments are actually investments that are directed at increasing Nigeria’s capacity to generate wealth, capacity to produce and capacity to be a stronger partner”, he explained.