In a bilateral meeting with Nigeria’s Vice President Kashim Shettima, who represented President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, China’s President Xi Jinping promised to release funds for two major railway projects in Nigeria. The meeting took place on Wednesday in Beijing, where Shettima is attending the Belt and Road Initiative Forum (BRI).
The railway projects, which are part of the legacy infrastructure of Nigeria, are the Abuja-Kano and Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri lines. They are being constructed by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, with China providing 85 per cent of the financing and Nigeria paying the remaining 15 per cent.
Shettima said that Nigeria had fulfilled its part of the funding, but China had delayed its disbursement due to cutbacks and commitments.
President Xi also pledged to increase China’s investment in Nigeria’s power generation and digital economy sectors, and asked for the protection of Chinese nationals working in Nigeria. He expressed his appreciation for Nigeria’s support of the one China Policy, and vowed to strengthen the bilateral relation between the two countries.
On the security front, President Xi assured that China would continue to cooperate with Nigeria and other countries in the Sahel region to combat terrorism. He said that China’s long-standing military training and joint exercises with Nigeria were still valid and important.
Speaking earlier, Shettima described the rail projects as vital to President Tinubu and the people of Nigeria, saying it remained a legacy project that would further open up the nation’s economy, create jobs and boost trade and investments across the country.
In his keynote speech on “Digital Economy As a New Source of Growth” at the High-Level Forum, the VP expressed President Tinubu’s dedication to enhancing the Nigeria-China relationship, based on mutual respect, non-interference and cooperation. He also congratulated President Jinping for inaugurating the Forum, which was attended by many leaders and officials from different countries.
Shettima said Nigeria would use its ties with China to adopt programmes that would boost its digital sector, among other benefits.
He also pledged Nigeria’s willingness to work with the Belt and Road Initiative members and other emerging markets to create a positive impact on the global economic growth and development.