Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has described the enormous potential in China-Nigeria economic and trade cooperation as an opportunity his country can’t afford to lose in development.
Buhari, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua prior to his state visit to China starting Monday, said Nigeria and China enjoy vast opportunities in cooperation in such fields as agriculture, mining, electric power generation, and railway and road construction.
The Nigerian leader expressed his country’s genuine wishes to further strengthen the Nigeria-China ties. China has the technical and financial capacity and the experience of development while retaining the goodwill to help Nigeria, said Buhari.
“So, really, this is an opportunity Nigeria cannot afford to lose,” the president told Xinhua at the Presidential Palace.
On trade and economic ties, Buhari said his government remains committed to contracts signed by its predecessor with Chinese firms on railway, roads and hydroelectric dam projects.
In spite of being the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria is still badly in need of these projects, which China, as the world’s second-largest economy, has the capacity to undertake, said the president.
Nigeria has been an economy largely relying on oil export while spending its foreign currency reserve heavily on rice and grain imports. Buhari said his country stands ready to expand the development of industries, especially in manufacturing and textile industries and speed up infrastructure construction, which presents huge opportunities for both China and Nigeria.
“The opportunities that present themselves for us … are virtually limitless,” he said.
On the concern of employment, Buhari said 62 percent of the Nigerian population is under the age of 35 and the jobless rate among this group is very high.
The best way to tackle unemployment is to develop agriculture and the mining industry, which China has the capacity to help, said the president. Some Chinese enterprises have already been involved in the mining industry in Nigeria’s northern provinces, he noted.
Buhari is scheduled to pay his first state visit to China from Monday to Friday. Born in Daura in northern Nigeria on Dec. 17, 1942, he won the presidential elections in March 2015, and was sworn in two months later.