From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

The Federal Government and the People’s Republic of China, yesterday, signed an agreement geared towards the monitoring and coordination of the different bilateral cooperation between both countries.

This was even as the Government of China announced a donation of the sum of 100 million Renminbi (RMB), approximately $15 million (N6 billion) to the Federal Government.

The agreement which was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and his visiting Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, during a bilateral meeting in Abuja, was witnessed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; the Minister of State, Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora.

Present at the closed-door session held earlier in the day was the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi; and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

Speaking during a joint press conference, Onyeama said the visit of the Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister was a deliberate decision that reflected the importance that the Chinese Government held and attached to its relationship with Nigeria.

Onyeama recalled the priorities of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration on assumption of office in 2015, particularly in the area of infrastructure, which he said the Government of China had been playing a very prominent role and support.

Onyeama further said in view of the priorities of the government, President Buhari visited China on two occasions and came up with agreements, with Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) facilitated in terms of access to business and trade promotion.

“And so, this visit by the State Councillor is a very important one. We held discussions, the two delegations. We had on the Nigerian side, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Aviation was represented and discussed a whole range of matters.

“And we also agreed to sign an MoU on Establishing an Intergovernmental Committee that will be charged with coordinating all aspects of cooperation between the two countries and many areas and many sectors in which we are cooperating with the Chinese. So, we decided on an institutional mechanism that will be charged with monitoring and coordinating all that multi-sectoral engagements,” Onyeama said.

Onyeama further said that during the meeting, both sides discussed issues in the transport sector, particularly railway where China is playing a prominent role; cooperation in the defence sector and the support China is rendering Nigeria in that area.

The minister added that both sides also discussed political matters and how to structure and institutionalise cooperation at the political level; analysed global affairs as well, the reciprocal support of each other in multilateral organisations and the joint effort of both countries to ensure a stable, fair, global system.

Onyeama also said both countries realised that year 2021 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Nigeria, including China’s activities under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), trade relations between both countries and discussed health issues, particularly COVID-19 where China had been supportive.

He also said that issues in the educational sector were discussed, including China’s support through Huawei in the ICT sector, plans to establish direct air links with China and prisoner exchange arrangement, amongst others.

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On his part, Wang said China highly valued Nigeria, its main strategic cooperation partner in Africa, adding that the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between both countries offered an important opportunity to take stock and look forward over the past five decades.

Wang also said China and Nigeria had in the past 50 years, respected, trusted and supported each other, saying that together, both countries had embark on the path of solidarity for prosperity.

He recalled that in 2019, China-Nigeria two way trade grew by 1900 times than that of 50 years ago, saying that it was indeed something remarkable.

Wang also recalled cooperation in terms of railway construction, free trade, currency swap, satellite research and many other areas of cooperation between the two countries which he said, had yielded fruitful results.

“That has provided a fine example for regional and international cooperation. All of these epitomises that China-Nigeria cooperation has strong moments from within. It means the common interest of both countries and our peoples had become an important part of China-Africa Cooperation and South-South Cooperation,” Wang said.

Wang further said China and Nigeria will continue to work closely on COVID-19 response and firmly support each other until a final victory is secured.

“We will set up an inter-governmental committee to be co-chaired by the two foreign ministers to lead cooperation across the board. We will synergise China’s new development paradigm and Nigeria’s development plan.

“We will deepen cooperation in a context of the Belt and Road to advance key projects in support of more rapid industrialisation in Nigeria and its greater capacity for self-development. We will expand cooperation into new areas of digital and green economy to make development more diversified.

“We will further engage in military and security cooperation to contribute to Nigeria’s national security capacity building. We will further coordinate in regional and international affairs, promote multilateralism and uphold common interest of developing countries,” Wang also said.