By Micheal Onjenwu
The House of Representatives committee on China-Nigeria relations was created to deepen the friendship and cooperation between both countries.
Chairman of the committee, Hon Jaafar Yakubu, made this known in an exclusive interview with newsmen at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja.
The lawmaker, who represents Bali, Gassol federal constituency of Taraba State, said the leadership of the House under Speaker Tajudeen Abbas created the committee because of China’s keen interest in Nigeria and to facilitate parliamentary and trade relations between both 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 said.
“We will continue to use this platform to build friendship between Nigeria and China, in terms of doing legitimate business and building parliamentary and bilateral relations between both countries.
“When we paid a courtesy call to the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, we told him that this committee offers a window for the Chinese to legitimately promote their businesses and improve the relationship between both countries.
“For example, the mining activities taking place in Nigeria. You will hear about legal miners and illegal miners. It is just a concept. A person cannot partake in mining without the cooperation of the locals. It is the locals that aids and abets illegal mining in Nigeria.
“We have hundreds of Chinese firms doing legal and legitimate mining in Nigeria. My committee will embark on a thorough investigation to unravel the illegal miners in Nigeria.”
The lawmaker added that his committee will collaborate with relevant stakeholders to sensitize Chinese investors on laws governing mining and business activities in Nigeria to avoid a breach of relevant laws.
On the importance of mining to the economy, the legislator said Nigeria could earn about $3bn annually from solid minerals and over 100,000 Nigerians are currently employed by different Chinese mining companies.
”100,000 employed Nigerians means 100,000 families lifted out of poverty which is a huge number,” he added.
The lawmaker said his committee hopes to visit the Chinese parliament and invite their counterpart from China to Nigeria to exchange ideas on governance and people-to-people cooperation.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1971, Nigeria and China have enjoyed win-win cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, foreign policy, education and technology transfer.