In a twinkle of an eye the world has been afflicted with a strange disease from a remote China province called Wuhan. This disease as have been reported in the media is spreading so rapidly that some countries are banning Chinese people from visiting their countries. The British Airways, Air France and five other international airlines have already cancelled all flights to China, while the Chinese authorities have declared a state of emergency in the affected province or region.
Notwithstanding these measures, the much dreaded corona virus has spread to the capital of China, Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities. It has even reached some Asian countries and a case has been reported in Cote d’Ivoire, so it is a matter of weeks if not days for the virus to reach Nigeria. God forbid! Presently Nigerians are apprehensive about the spread of the virus upon the return of Chinese nationals from the lunar festival.
By the way, it was such demoralizing news to read about how a Chinese supermarket in Abuja, the nation’s capital was shut down by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, a Nigerian government agency for selling expired goods to Nigerians, and even giving preferential treatment to their citizens by allowing them separate access from Nigerians. This act was probably to shield them from the harmful effects of the expired products. This is quite reprehensible and condemnable as the owners of the supermarket have abused the privilege being given to them as foreigners and taken us for granted.
Yet there is cause for joy as for once the Nigerian government was proactive and on top of the situation by closing down the supermarket promptly thereby saving Nigerians the inherent dangers of buying and consuming harmful and expired goods by some conscienceless Chinese traders.
Perhaps this has brought to the fore the need for Nigerians to think twice before patronizing Chinese products, technology and food items as the outbreak of the corona virus clearly shows that China in their desperation to enter the world market has thrown caution to the wind with the mass production of uncertified goods.
Also in their desperation to become a world power and be able to feed their over one billion population they undermine the health and well being of other people. Even in the low interest loans being advanced for development project in some developing countries including Nigeria, there are so many strings attached and the debilitating effects will manifest in due time hence the need to look before you leap.
Therefore the sudden scramble for African countries by the Chinese can be traced to the closer scrutiny being done on their goods in the developed world like United States and Europe with the use of tariffs and strict quality control. It seems that Africa and indeed Nigeria have become the new dumping ground for low quality Chinese goods which in most cases are harmful, destructive and valueless.
Or how else should we look at a situation where most Chinese activities in Nigeria are shrouded in secrecy and even in hiring their workforce they completely exclude Nigerians and instead bring in workers from their country for every single project. These partnerships are one sided and tilts in favour of the Chinese all the time and ought to be reviewed or discarded out rightly. It is therefore surprising that Nigerian policy makers usually enter into partnerships, contracts or agreements with the Chinese government and their companies without doing a painstaking evaluation of the drawbacks or inherent long term disadvantages to the Nigerian people.
It is expected that a business relationship will be mutually beneficial but in the case of Chinese they have chosen to bequeath to their partners, and in this case Nigerians mediocrity and products that hardly meet international standards.
It is therefore commendable that a Nigerian government agency had the foresight to carry out due diligence in the way this particular supermarket was carrying its business and there is need for the agency and other regulatory authorities to go the whole hog and henceforth ensure that Chinese companies in Nigeria obey the rules and do business within the framework of the laws guiding every area of business.
A situation where the Chinese take our ease of doing business and open doors for granted should no longer be tolerated as in the end they do more harm than good. In this regard we must tighten the noose on Chinese companies that are bent on violating our laws to avoid falling victims to the harmful effects of goods and products from their country and the sudden outbreak of the corona virus is a typical example.
Time has come for our ‘’leaders to shine their eyes’’ by taking all necessary measures to check the activities of Chinese companies in Nigeria. We must not mortgage the future of our children to the ruthless pursuit of quick profit and influence by the Chinese. In their quest for global acclaim and control they hardly bat an eyelid to the national interest and survival of the host country.
From the foregoing it is clear that the Buhari administration is taking the bull by the horns in the area of protecting Nigerians from various health hazards, especially the cross border diseases that can cause multiple and uncontrollable deaths like China’s Coronavirus.
Nwufo writes from Lagos