April 21, 2022

How China’s ‘malign influence’ is corroding democracies in Nigeria, others

By Wilfred Owen

Nigeria is a crucial country, the biggest in Africa. China is a crucial country, the biggest in Asia and the world. China and Nigeria are both influential members of their continent. Both are active participants, Important contributors and firm defenders of the international economic governance system.

However, it is solely recently that the two countries have begun to determine a major relationship, Nigeria and China share a national day: 1st October. For the first eleven years following Nigerian independence in 1960, this was concerning all that the two countries had in common.

Nigeria at independence was unlikely to be friendly to the communists in China. The Nigerian government was conservative, democratic, pro-Westem, and somewhat hostile towards China’s few diplomatic contacts in West Africa. The institution of relations in 1971 forthwith bring these two giants close.

The start line of the burgeoning relations started in 2000, with the hosting of the first Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The official Chinese characterisation of this relationship is “win-win” cooperation. China has endowed over USD 2.6 billion in Nigeria in recent years, and thousands of Chinese come to Nigeria either as tourists, merchants, or construction engineers and businessmen.

It is additionglly noteworthy that there is a large sized Nigerian migrant community in China. Though precise figures of annual Chinese foreign direct investment in Nigeria are tough to pin down, trade between the two countrics is important, with imports from China amounting to USD 8.35 billion in 2018 alone. ‘

Nigeria offers Chinese firms various opportunities of moneymaking business and trade outlets. Chinese firms have endowed $20 billion in over one hundred and fifty corporations in Nigeria? China has been instrumental in intensive infrastructure throughout Nigeria, building rail lines crisscrossing the country, constructing new international terminals at a number of the country’s airports, mining, and even taking part in agricultural endeavors. There are research and cultural exchange programs between China and Nigeria. China has established Confucius centres in Nigeria.

Nevertheless, there are some strains within the apparently burgeoning relationship. The investments are tormented by controversies that paint it as predatory practices disguised as economic empowerment. Moreover, several Chinese imports are displacing native industries and employment, making tension with the native Nigerian businessmen and corrupt practices within the public service.

Whereas it is burdensome to ignore Chinese infrastructure contributions that are particularly valuable for transitioning Nigena off from its dependency on natural-resources mining and exports, China’s business presence faces mounting risks even as it attempts to stymie them.

The pervasive penetration of the Nigerian space by China has recently generated critical press and concern among academia, the international community, lawmakers and policymakers concerning not solely their opaque nature, and lack of sustainability, but the possible malign influence China is exerting in Nigeria.

Several natives accuse Chinese firms of unfair practices as well as displacing local businesses, contributing to unemployment, and failing to make purposeful jobs despite the immense investments being created by Chinese firms. What is more, they cite Chinese foreign employees repatriating funds back to their fatherland rather than reinvesting within the native economy, darkening matters even more, increasing China’s global political influence and the major growth opportunity presented by thi large emerging economy in Africa.

Nigeria also offers some tantalizing vulnerabilities for Beijing. Its infrastructural and economic dependence on China as a development and trade partner provides a natural constituency of support among a section of the political and business community that systematically advocates for a cooperative relationship with China. The political elite point to these infrastructural projects as ‘dividends of democracy’ (benefits of democracy).

In addition, corruption in Nigeria appears to be ubiquitous and takes many forms from massive contract fraud to petty bribery; from straight-up embezzlement to complicated money laundering schemes; from pocketing the salaries of non-existent Workers to steering plum jobs to relatives and friends. Some officials enjoy perquisites so excessive that they are widely seen as a form of legalized corruption. These susceptibilities can easily be manipulated


  1. Infrastructure Loans

Infrastructure is basic essential services that ought to be placed in to modify development to occur. Economic development of Nigeria may be expedited and accelerated by the presence of infrastructure. If these facilities and services are not in place, development is going to be terribly tough and really may be likened to be really scarce goods that may solely be secured at a really high value and price.

The Nigeria-China strategic cooperation has in recent times centred on enabling the strategic fundamentals that may stimulate sustainable and inclusive economic processes in Nigeria which will open the socio-economic area of the country with a view to making employment, generate productive economic activities and facilitate social balance for stability and progress. This laudable stance equally provides China with opportunities for malign influence. Nigerian state governments are struggling to pay for many of those projects, exposing China to potentially heavy losses. it’s a Catch – 22.

In the rail sector, these rail lines: Ibadan – Kano ($5.3bn); Lagos – Calabar ($2.3bn); Abuja (capital of Nigeria) – Kaduna ($876million); Lagos – Ibadan ($1.53bn) are on.’ Construction of recent international terminals at a number of the country’s airports (Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt) and roads are currently being undertaken by Chinese firms. These infrastructural projects have necessitated taking of loans from China. Because of allegations of the opaque nature of those loans, Nigeria’s parliament (lower Chamber – House of Representatives) has commenced the process to probe all China/Nigeria bilateral agreements since 2000 for concern of economic exploitation.

Its Committees on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Finance as well as Debt Management are to liaise with the Debt Management Office and Ministry of Finance to seek for review or outright cancellation of China loans on the principle of force majeure. The committee is seeking to determine the “viability, regularising and renegotiating ” the loans. Motion to the present position titled “Urgent Need to Review and Renegotiate Existing China/Nigeria Loan Agreements” was moved by Ben Rollands Igbakpa from Delta State.°

According to Igbakpa, the House was aware that records from Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO) discovered that the People’s Republic of China emerged Nigeria’s major creditor under the bilateral deals, with $2.3b, out of $3.3b and that the EXIM Bank of China is Nigeria’s biggest bilateral creditor in nearly two decades, having lent the African largest economy $6.5 billion (or N1.9 trillion) since 2002.’

Justifying tho probe Igbakpa said: There is a lot of hues and cries out there and it is our role to expose corruption. It is our role to expose inefficiency and if there is any waste, we see it. There is this complaint that these projects are two expensive.

They are overpriced and nobody is verifying. The Minister of Transport did say that so long as they are bringing the funds, they have 100 percent right to execution. So, that means nobody is actually over-sighting the and that’s why saying let’s look at them and know the cost of the projects.

Owen is a foreign affairs analyst based in Abuja