President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that sustainable development would be impossible in a country that is bedeviled with severe infrastructural deficits.
He spoke while receiving Mr. Wang Yi, the State Councillor and Foreign Minister, People’s Republic of China, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, “We thank China for its support to us in various ways; in the building of rail, road, power, defence, and many others. You are helping us to reduce our severe infrastructural deficits, and we are glad. There cannot be sustainable development without infrastructural development.”
The President pledged that Nigeria would continue to honour its obligations in the relationship with the People’s Republic of China, “as you are making a big difference, which we appreciate very much.”
Speaking earlier, Wang Yi applauded what he called the “mutual trust and sound personal friendship” between President Buhari and President Xi Jinping of China, noting that “it has guided the bilateral relationship between our two countries.”
He explained that China loves to begin the year’s diplomatic work from Africa, and Nigeria was chosen as the first port of call in 2021 since the year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The State Councillor described Nigeria as a country with great regional and international influence, adding: “We trust, understand and support each other. We will continue to value each other.”
Yi said his country would encourage Chinese companies to increase their investments in Nigeria, while China would also readily share experience and techniques in areas like the digital economy, defence, and many others.
In a related development, the Federal Government says it has opened talks with China to have access to COVID-19 vaccines for Nigeria.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffery Onyeama, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja, while briefing newsmen shortly after a bilateral meeting with Yi.
Onyeama recalled that China was of immense assistance to Nigeria at the advent of the pandemic, noting that the donation of protective equipment greatly affected the nation in the fight against COVID-19.
The minister said that at this point when countries were discovering vaccines and China being one of them, Nigeria was engaging the country in the area of access to the vaccine.
“We have received a lot of support from China in the area of personal protective equipment that they were very quick to provide us with and of course, with the vaccine discoveries now.
“China is also one of those countries that have been able to discover vaccines for COVID-19, so we are also engaging with China to also help with regards to access to vaccines for our people,” he said.
According to Onyeama, the relationship between both countries has dated 50 years, adding that both countries have many areas of cooperation to celebrate.
“We also realised that in 2021, we would be celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the Peoples Republic of China,” he said.
Giving insights into some of the deliberations during the closed door meeting, Onyeama said that he and his counterpart looked at the trade relations between the two countries and areas that could be improved.
He said that they also discussed health issues and the global pandemic.
“In the area of fostering relations, both countries are now considering having a direct flight from Nigeria to China.
“We want to establish direct air link with China. We hope that very soon, a Nigerian carrier would be carrying out scheduled flights to China in the not too distant future,” he said.