From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Government of the People’s Republic of China has set a 2024 deadline for the completion of the new secretariat it is donating to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission.
The world-class edifice to be sited along the Airport Road, Abuja, is being funded by the Chinese Government under the China Aid for Shared Future and is being handled by the Shaanxi Construction Engineering Group Corporation (SCEGC), with Mr Feng Yongjun as the project director.
Speaking at the construction site on Friday evening, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun, said the construction which will be fully funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, was an expression of the genuine interest and collaboration between China and Africa.
The Chinese envoy further expressed joy that the major challenge bedevilling the construction of the project which was getting a permit from the Government, was almost at its final stage.
“I am the fourteenth Chinese Ambassador, not only to Nigeria but also to ECOWAS. Today, with this giant gift from China, I will like to say that my major purpose here is to try to promote this project here.
“You know in China, this is a really important project, from Chinese taxpayers, done by the Chinese government. As ambassador, it is my responsibility that I should contribute my efforts and my wisdom to this project.
“And also, I will like to let you know why we do this. The first is about the friendship and the relationship. The Chinese government asked me last year how can we do this project and also I asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador how can we proceed, also the Ministry of Finance so that they can support this project.
“That means the relationship between Nigeria and China is very important and also, I want to emphasise the relationship with the fifteen members of ECOWAS, we believe that every country has good relations with China.
“The second is that we need efficient, high-quality buildings. So, this reason gave the company, this company is very famous in China. So, I think that I want to let you know that ECOWAS will have a new office building and conference centre within 24 months.
“China is the number one developing economy and I do believe that through this project, it will strengthen broader relationship, trust, benefit and mutual respect for member countries,” Cui said.
Earlier, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Damtien Tchintchibidja, expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for its generosity and sincere interest in West Africa and the Nigerian government for hosting ECOWAS Commissions and other institutions.
“I want to thank the Chinese leaders for putting up this tour. For us in the sub-region, it highlights cooperation, the collaboration between China and Africa and it is a pleasure to be a direct beneficiary of this as part of the management of the ECOWAS Commission.
“I thank the Authority of Nigeria for hosting us and for being the big brother, for providing for the needs of the Commission and providing the land to lift up the entire Africa by headquartering the ECOWAS Commission here.
“My role right now is to be thankful for the opportunity and to make sure that as we embark on this adventure, to make sure that we are able to create more opportunities for cooperation between China and West Africa for it to be a win-win situation where the opportunities, not only here on the ground in Africa, but also to open up the way for opportunities on the ground in China for African businesses to be able to thrive in China and to make sure that this is not the only collaboration that there will be between China and ECOWAS.
“China has grown exponentially and I strongly believe that it is a model that we as Africans should follow and it has been done through proper planning, determination and hard work,” Tchintchibidja said.