The Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, has cautioned against emphasis on loan in the relationship between China and African countries.
Sani gave this warning when he chaired a roundtable organised by the Centre for China Studies in Abuja on Thursday.
The roundtable has the theme,” The Outcomes of 2018 Beijing Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation”.
The roundtable was aimed at working out ways to synergise outcomes of the summit with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the Federal Government, to drive sustainable and inclusive development in Nigeria.
Sani, who warned that debt was a form of colonialism, advised that the relationship between China and African countries should be mutual and not on a “creditor and debtor basis”.
According to him, many African countries have frosty relationship with their creditors, for their inability to service their loans accessed from such countries.
He said: “China, Africa relationship should not be simply about loans. We must be careful and ensure there is no strong emphasis on loan.
“Loan is sweet but payment is bitter and it will be in the interest of both countries that other areas are explored.
“Debt from our experience is a new form of colonialism. I am of the opinion that as you borrow in bits it becomes a mountain.
“We should explore all other areas, from security cooperation, to China doing everything possible to support Africa to have a permanent representation at the United Nations Security Council.
“The relationship between Africa and China should not be about the creditor and debtor.
“It should be about mutual engagement and the need for China to invest in Africa, so that we can also rise to their level.”
The lawmaker urged African countries to borrow a leaf from China’s developmental strategies, which were devoid of loans.
According to him, China rose from being a third world country to becoming the second largest economy in the world.
Sani said: “We are here today to follow up that historic forum that brought together leaders from Africa to China, to discuss and deliberate on what has been achieved and the way forward.
“There is no doubt that there is no nation outside of Africa that is deeply involved in developmental and economic activities in Africa than China and this relationship becomes easy because of the historical similarities between the continent and China.
“China moved from a third world nation to the second biggest and largest economy.
“That should be an inspiration to African nations to look up to themselves for their political liberation and economic progress.
“China today is a dominant economic power, a force to reckon with and one that is viewed globally as a power militarily and economically and an inspiration to us.
“They did so without putting their knees on the ground begging other countries to come and develop China. That should also be the inspiration of Africans.”
Sani, while appreciating China’s role in Africa’s liberation struggle, called for mutual relationship that would see African countries providing value rather than looking up to what China had to offer.
In his remarks, former Director-General, Institute for Peace, Conflict Resolution, Prof. Joseph Golwa, said while there was nothing wrong with accessing loans, workable strategies ought to be put in place to make judicious use of such loans.
According to him, emphasis should be laid on having a coordinating body on loan implementation.
He also said attention should be paid to research and human capacity development to maximise the potentials in the country and continent at large.
Golwa said: “In this country and most African countries, we do not encourage research and that is why we are not growing at the pace we ought to.
“Why should we be bringing in Chinese and other people to build our refineries.
“In our relationship under FOCAC, we should be able to build on the technology we obtain here as well as using our own people so that we build our own refineries and other things.
“We have the human resources to achieve this feat and we must take it seriously.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that President Muhammadu Buhari led a delegation to Beijing, China, to attend the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which held between September 3 and 4.
Heads of Government and delegations from 52 African countries, including Nigeria and the People’s, Republic of China met in Beijing, under the auspices of the Forum on China and Africa Cooperation.
The tri-annual summit was held with the theme: “China and Africa: Towards an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation”.