By Lizzy Okoji
The Chinese government says it’s set to begin construction of a World-Class edifice which it will be donating to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission by 2024.
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Cui Jianchun made this known when he took the Management of ECOWAS commission and representatives of the Nigerian government on a tour round the site in Abuja.
Cui said construction of the structure which would be fully funded by the Chinese government, showed the genuine interest and collaboration of China to Africa.
He also expressed delight that the major challenge of getting a permit to begin the construction of the complex from the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) would soon be resolved.
“I am the 14th 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.
“You know in China, this is a really important project, from Chinese tax payers, done by the Chinese government. As ambassador, it is my responsibility that I should contribute through 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 we can carry out this project and also I asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador, how we can proceed so, also the Ministry of Finance, so they support this project.
“That means the relationship between Nigeria and China is very important, and also I want to emphasise the relationship with the 15 members of ECOWAS, we believe that every country has good relations with China.
“The second is we need an efficient, high-quality building, so this is the reason we gave the project to the company, this company is very famous in China. So I think that I want to let you know that the ECOWAS will have a new office building and conference center 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.
Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Damgtien Tchintchibidja thanked the Chinese government for their generosity and sincere interest in West Africa and the Nigerian government for hosting ECOWAS commission 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 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 we should follow as Africans, and it has been done through proper planning, determination and hard work,” Tchintchibidja said.
Amb. Musa Nuhu, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to ECOWAS who gave an update on the project, said that the little challenge to commencing the construction which was the land approval had been addressed.
He said the FC T minister had just granted a waiver of the initial payment of N212 million by the Department of Development Control, FCTA for the building approval.
He said that with this development, he was sure that all would be set for the commencement of construction as soon as possible.
“Where we are now is at the verge of receiving building approval. You made a proposal before through the FCT.
“When it was submitted, there were some observations which development control brought forward for the construction company to carry out.
“Secondly, they gave us a bill of about N212 million to pay the approval fee which the minister of foreign affairs wrote to the minister of FCT for a waiver.
“The FCT minister has granted waiver that we are not going to pay the fee, with that waiver, the development control are now working toward giving the approval because they have to go through the documents page by page and stamp.
“And we are hoping that in the next few days, we will be able to get the approval.
“The coordination committee has also been meeting to ensure that when you begin this work, you will be able to complete it within 24 months,” Nuhu said. (NAN)