More Chinese Funding for Rail, Power, Other Projects

China yesterday pledged to pump more money into railway projects, the power sector and the digital economy in Nigeria.

Chinese President, Xi Jinping, stated this in Beijing during a meeting with Vice-President Kashim Shettima.

The Asia giant and world’s second largest economy reaffirmed its readiness to fulfil its obligations to full funding of railway projects, which had been slowed down.

It is set to provide money for the completion of the Abuja-Kano and Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail projects.

According to Vice-President Shettima’s spokesman, Stanley Nkwocha, Jinping made the pledge while responding to requests by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Belt and Road Initiative Forum (BRI).

Shettima represented Tinubu at the forum.

Since the launch of the projects, China, which was to provide 85 per cent of the costs, has yet to do so due largely to cutbacks and commitments.

But Nigeria has since provided the balance of 15 per cent.

The contracts were awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

During President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure, Nigeria and China signed a number of agreements on many rail projects, some of which have been completed.

These include the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kaduna rail projects.

The ground-breaking ceremony of the rehabilitation of the N96 billion Port-Harcourt/Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Guage railway project was performed on March 9, 2021.

Jinping, according to the presidential aide, called for the protection of Chinese nationals in Nigeria.

He assured that his government would, in turn, ensure that the Nigeria-China bilateral relations became stronger by enhancing political support and building cooperation in all fields.

He also threw his weight behind the Renewed Hope manifesto of President Tinubu and his 8-point economic agenda.

According to the statement, China also assured that it would support Nigeria’s exports, especially as it related to peanuts.

In the area of security, President Jinping said his country would continue to partner with Nigeria in its efforts to crack down on terrorists and restore peace in the Sahel region.

The Chinese leader said: “As 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 uphold 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 potential. I totally agree with you. Our foreign Ambassadors can stay and work out this upgrading.”

Shettima, who described the rail projects as vital to Nigeria, said President Tinubu remained committed to a stronger Nigeria-China tie.

He said: “Our relationship commenced about 50 years ago, precisely in 1971 and it has been upgraded to a comprehensive partnership.

“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, and Mozambique, and the struggle for the emancipation of our people in Southern Africa.”