By Lizzy Okoji
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has lauded diplomatic relations between Nigeria and China in the past 50 years, describing the bilateral relations as an invaluable partnership.
Onyeama made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja as both countries celebrate 50 years of bilateral relations.
Nigeria and China formally entered into diplomatic relations on Feb. 10, 1971, a little after a decade of Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
He said both countries have maintained strong friendship over the years without any disagreements, noting that Nigeria has greatly benefitted from the friendship especially in infrastructure development.
Onyeama explained that China had impacted on Nigeria in almost all sectors and completed a lot of developmental projects in the country.
“We maintained a strong friendship for half a century, we have not had any disagreement at all during this period.
“China has also developed great capacity for major complex projects and capital intensive projects such as railway, big building complexes, airports, dams and roads.
“And so, since for President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, infrastructure has become key priority, the Chinese being an invaluable partner in helping us to build significant infrastructure.
“They have been a major in our rail, airports, the Mambilla dam we are working on and other areas we are working on like roads and so on.
“They have been particularly important significant partners of Nigeria right across the board,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama said aside bilateral relations with China, the Forum on China and African Cooperation (FOCAC), has fostered infrastructure development across Africa.
”To further strengthen bilateral relations between both countries, when the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Nigeria in January, we agreed to set up a committee.
”The committee will be the umbrella body to monitor and coordinate all cooperation with China so as to give it some coherence and cohesion and make it easier to plan.
“We look also in the future to cooperating more with the Chinese in the multilateral and international spheres, the united nations and other multilateral spheres to be on the same page with China in terms of global governance.
“And to also have more Chinese support in the areas of security; maritime security and land security, insurgency and terrorism.
“And China is also advanced in the military field so we will also be looking to have some support there going forward,” Onyeama said.