By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA- Representative of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director, Asian Pacific, Mr. John Shaga, has disclosed that Nigeria may take over from South Africa as the co-chair, Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), during the 2018 September Summit holding in Beijing, China.
Mr Shaga made this disclosure at the national workshop on FOCAC organized by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in collaboration with the Centre for China Studies.
According to Shaga, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has written officially to President Muhammadu Buhari on the benefits of the position, and it is awaiting his approval. Meanwhile, FOCAC planning committee has called for an aggressive campaign by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian Missions abroad to ensure the country beat other contenders for the seat of the co-chair.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a traditional way of pushing for such. Once we get Mr. President’s approval, we will kick-start the diplomatic moves to ensure we get the support of other African countries”, Shaga stated.
Speaking on the forth-coming Forum, Director, Centre for China Studies (CCS), Mr. Charles Onunaiju, stated that Nigeria’s size, political visibility and resources, have positioned it as a major driver of China-Africa cooperation.
Onunaiju further described the September forum as a strategic game-changer for Africa in deepening the structural variables of infrastructure, industrialization and agricultural modernization for the purpose of raising citizens standard of living.
“Nigeria is at a massive turning point in building requisite structural framework for sustainable growth. “Having identified key infrastructural requirements as basis for development, it is equally of essence to mainstream FOCAC process as reliable and engaging partner to realize this ambition”, he stated.
Chinese Deputy Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Lin Jing, pledged Chinese government’s resolve to provide enabling business environment for Africans.
According to him, “China has solid steps to lower its import tarriffs, sending out a strong signal that it will keep its promise to further opening its doors to partners on tarriffs reduction.
FOCAC began in the year 2000, under the joint initiative of China and African countries with the aim of further strengthening friendly cooperation. The last edition held in South Africa in 2015.
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