The establishment of the House of Representatives committee on China-Nigeria relations in the 10th Assembly was driven by the desire to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between both nations, as explained by Chairman Hon Jaafar Yakubu during an exclusive interview at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja.
Hon Jaafar, who represents the Bali, Gassol federal constituency of Taraba State, shed light on the rationale behind the committee’s formation. He pointed out that the decision to create this committee was made under the leadership of Speaker Tajudeen Abbas. The primary motivations were the significant interest that China has in Nigeria and the aspiration to enhance parliamentary and trade relations between the two countries.
“In previous assemblies, there was no committee of this nature, but because of the importance of our bilateral trade with China and the interest China has in Nigeria, the 10th assembly decided to create this special committee,” he stated.
The committee’s primary objectives include fostering a deeper friendship between Nigeria and China, promoting legitimate business activities, and strengthening parliamentary and bilateral relations. Hon Jaafar emphasized the committee’s role as a platform for the Chinese to engage in lawful business endeavors and enhance the relationship between the two nations.
He also touched upon the issue of mining in Nigeria, highlighting the concept of legal and illegal mining and the role of local communities in these activities. He clarified that numerous Chinese firms are engaged in legal and legitimate mining operations in Nigeria, and his committee intends to investigate and address any illegal mining activities.
Furthermore, he affirmed that his committee would collaborate closely with relevant stakeholders to educate Chinese investors about Nigeria’s mining and business regulations, ensuring compliance with the law. He added, “We will also engage with local communities to encourage them to be more receptive and transparent in their interactions with investors, creating a conducive environment for mining investments. This will lead to job creation, poverty reduction, and a decrease in criminal activities.”
Hon Jaafar cited data from the Senate Committee on Finance, suggesting that Nigeria could potentially generate approximately $3 billion annually from its solid minerals sector. He underscored the positive impact of Chinese investment in the mining sector, stating that over 100,000 Nigerians are currently employed by various Chinese mining companies. This, in turn, translates to significant poverty reduction for these employed individuals and their families.
The legislator concluded by expressing his committee’s intentions to engage in further international cooperation. They hope to visit the Chinese parliament and invite their counterparts from China to Nigeria to facilitate discussions on governance and people-to-people cooperation.
Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1971, Nigeria and China have enjoyed mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, investment, foreign policy, education, and technology transfer.