The Belt and Road Initiative Zoom Forum themed “One Belt One Road : One For ALL, All For One” started by 2:00pm Nigeria time on 27 June. President of the China Alumni Association of Nigeria, Mr Muhammad Sulaiman presided over the online Forum, Mr. Li Xuda, Cultural Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, delivered awelcome address with particular emphasis on the just concluded “Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19”, which was hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, President Buhari of Nigeria, Heads of State and Government of other African countries, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, were present at the Online Summit.
Mr. Li emphasized the Essence of Belt and Road Initiative is its Five-Pronged Approach: Policy Coordination, Connectivity of Infrastructure, Unimpeded Trade, Financial Integration and Closer People-to-People Ties. As a cultural counsellor, I always focus on Closer People-to-People Ties. In my eyes, both China and Nigeria are great countries with long history and rich culture, the history of our two countries shows us that civilization thrives with openness and nations prosper through exchange. In pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, we should ensure that when it comes to different civilizations, exchange will replace isolation, mutual learning will replace clashes, and coexistence will replace a sense of superiority. Most importantly, the pursuit of this initiative is based on extensive consultation and its benefits will be shared by us all. Furthermore, Mr. Li discussed essentially on the Covid-19 and its effects around the world and what China has been doing to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Mr. Li Xuda, Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy
The contributions of Mr Muhammad Sulaiman had participants reflecting on the need for understanding of the Belt and Road Initiative, which he says is China’s greatest international economic ambition aimed at stimulating economic development, covering Asia to Europe and Africa. These areas according to him, is responsible for about 60% of the world’s population and 30% of the world’s GDP. It obviously contributes to China’s growth, which China in turn, sees as growth of partner Nations along the Silk and Maritime Roads. he emphasized that, for as long as it is beautiful for China, it is China’s sole commitment to ensure that all the partner countries along the belt will experience infrastructural growth, easy trade, financial support, cultural and educational exchange, which makes emerging market economies into vibrant economic pillars. He however noted the clash of cultures, regimes beliefs and financial viability, as parts of the challenges that he identified as possible obstacles in the future.
Some Participants at the Forum
The Director of the Centre for China Studies, Mr. Charles Onunaiju went further to stress on the need for understanding on what the Belt and Road Initiative stands for. He said that, because the world is changing fast through unfamiliar terrains, the need for nations to partner on collective ideas can never be deemed overemphasized.
Talking about the economy global in view of the infrastructural development that comes with the BRI, he appealed that growth can only be achieved if all parties take the initiative brought in 2013 by his Excellency President Xi and with the strong conviction that there is no going back on such a laudable project.
In addition, he called the Belt and Road, the frame work of international dialogue and consultation through which the vast and different cultural heritage of humanity can be appreciated. People to people contacts which will advance the building of a universal community of shared future through cross cultural engagement is one of the key strands of the Belt and Road.
There is a general consensus by the participants, that this project provides member nations from Asia, Europe and heartland Africa, avenues to meaningful growth, good health and economic viability as starters, while infrastructures takes place on mega scales.
Doctor Sheriff Ghali of the university of Abuja especially, talked about Nigeria’s level of preparedness as this initiative comes in. It is important he notes, that when the Belt and Road or the silk Road initiative comes in, that Nigeria should be found standing tall, prepared and waiting to take advantage of the available opportunities the initiative comes with.
On how to improve the spirit of partnership between Nigeria and China on IBR, Dr. Sheriff Ghali talked the two views as follows:
Firstly, all the major OBOR routes in Africa are facing security challenges such as Kenya-Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria and the Sahel. The two partners must work together to improve security situations for greater infrastructure investment on the continent.
Second, there is the need to restrategise on the Belt and Road rebels. Who are the rebels? They are those who refused to join the OBOR Initiative and they are urging others to repudiate. They try to meddle in China’s domestic issues especially in Hong Kong and campaign against China’s way of containing extremism in Xinjiang. These are all ways to thwart the efforts of the IBR Community.
It’s therefore imperative to deal with these issues for the realisation of shared future for mankind.
Other contributors include members of the media, the industrial, educational, cultural and medical sectors, Professors from various universities, members of the China alumni Association and other members of the public.
It is however assumed according to the General Secretary of the China alumni Association, Mr Yakubu Ibrahim, that Nigeria shares same cultural and educational values, will definitely find this initiative useful. Particularly, educational exchanges between the countries, will help provide the needed skills and knowledge to be used for the actualization of the Belt and Road Initiative objectives. This goes to say that, the ambitious initiative, and people to people bounding can best be achieved through human capacity development.
The participants at the forum also identified the contributions of the embassy in ensuring that assistance to the educational and cultural sectors have been at the forefront of the promotion of stronger bilateral ties that exist between both nations.
The other sectors, which include the National gallery of Arts, Professors from the Universities of Uyo and Abuja, Huawei, the Departments of the FCT Arts and Culture, FCT Secondary Education Board and a host of others.
It was agreed that because of the importance of the forum, that there should be more of such interactions in the future to create synergies between both nations.
The event ended at about 3:20 pm on the same day.