By IKENNA EMEWU
Former Nigerian president, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo has congratulated the president of China, the country and the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the 100 years anniversary of the party.
A letter signed by President Obasanjo and issued on June 30 praised the CPC and China for great strides in its leadership and challenged the party and the leader to sustain the objective of recreating the country into a bigger and better place.
Obasanjo said that China is today described as the modern day miracle that has grown and expanded in so many ways in technology, science, the economy, military and the lifting of hundreds of millions of the citizens out of poverty. He recalled that all these areas of growth were supervised by the CPC, reason it should be congratulated for a great stride.
He also recalled that since 1971 Nigeria established diplomatic relations with China, the two countries have benefited from the friendship and today, that remains one of the most important diplomatic ties Nigeria has.
The former Nigerian leader and scholar also praised the landmarks that have signposted the relations between the two large countries, with China being the most populous and world superpower as Nigeria remains also the largest in Africa.
He recalled that from the relations, Nigeria and China have in the past signed many bilateral agreements on further cooperation.
The Nigerian leader related to President Xi how he paid two visits to China in 2001 and 2005 to discuss various aspects of their friendship especially in the economy and trade and incidentally, after the Chinese president, Hu Jintao reciprocated the visits, trade between the two countries had a leap that took it to the highest and making China Nigeria’s biggest trading partner toppling US, UK, Netherlands and others over just few years.
He said during President Hu’s visit in 2006, he had told him that this 21st Century is that of China to soar and reminded him that the two countries should guard their friendship so that as China rises higher he would assist Nigeria to grow alongside.
Obasanjo also noted that China today is the highest development finance lender to Nigeria admitting that the lending has helped in Nigeria infrastructure development especially in railway and roads construction.
He mentioned specific instances where Nigeria had deployed finances from China to build the Abuja metro light railway system and also in 2016 commissioned the Abuja-Kaduna railway and the Lagos-Ibadan railway most recently, after the completion of the Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Warri railway link. He appreciated China for such supports for the country’s progress and infrastructure development.
“As of 2017, Nigeria was China’s largest engineering contract market, second largest export market, third largest trading partner and major foreign direct investment destination in Africa. Nigeria is also the first African country to accept Chinese renminbi (RMB) in its foreign reserve. China and Nigeria have maintained steady development of the Lekki and the Ogun Free Trade Zones in the southern part of the country which aim to attract more foreign investments and manufacturers to optimize Nigeria industrial structure and improve its living standard.”
As a leader of repute in Africa, Obasanjo appreciated China for her presence in assisting Africa’s growth and cited instances that “China’s visibility in Africa’s infrastructure landscape is clear. From the landmark $200m African Union secretariat building in Ethiopia, which was a gift by China in 2012 to the roads, airports, railways, universities and libraries, Chinese investment in Africa increased from around $75m in 2003 to $2.7 billion in 2019.”
He concluded by referencing his book: My Watch: Now and Then that “China’s growth and strength remain unstoppable.”