By Victor Gotevbe,
Consulate General of People’s Republic of China has held a welcome reception in honour of the 28th Chinese Naval Taskforce visiting Ship Yancheng at Oriental Hotel in preparation for the Nigeria International Maritime Conference, Regional Maritime Exercise and Navy Day.
The reception, which took place on Monday, May 28th, was graced by the Chinese Ambassador, the Acting Chinese Consul General, Senior Naval Officers both from China and Nigeria, Military Personnel, Police Chiefs, DG of Nimasa, other Maritime stakeholders, business people and Media Professionals.
Speaking at the reception, H.E. Zhou Pingjian, Ambassador of China to Nigeria reiterated that efforts are ongoing to strengthen the bilateral relations existing between Nigeria and China. He made reference to the distinctive tie founded on the similarities between both countries which include the fact that China got her independence on October 1, 1949 and Nigeria got her independence on October 1, 1960. He added the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was founded on August 1, 1957 while the previous year (1956) on August 1, the first legislation of the Nigerian Navy Ordinance was passed by her House of Assembly.
“What I assure you is that the friendship between the two countries has been very strong with opportunities for the two countries to grow in all areas and we thank the Nigerian government for the strong ties” he expressed.
Flag Officer commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sylvanus Agada Abbah in company of Flag Officer commanding Naval Training Command, Rear Admiral Obi Ofodile and other officers who received the Chinese team, highlighted the special bond between both countries particularly on its demography. Nigeria being the most populous country in Africa while China equally has the most population in the Asian Continent, which explains why there are many Nigerians in China and many Chinese too in Nigeria.
According to Rear Admiral Abbah, after the International Maritime Conference, there would also be a Regional Maritime Exercise, which is the gathering of all the Naval Chiefs. This has brought Naval officers from France, Portugal, Ghana, Togo and China who are all presently in the Nigeria water at the Naval Dock waiting for the exercise to start on May 30 and the ships will then return to their initial destinations on May 31, 2018.
“They are all at the Naval dockyard, and some are at Nigeria Ports Authority, waiting for the exercise to start. The International Maritime Conference will culminate into our Ceremonial Sunset to be followed by the Navy Day, ” he said.
He disclosed: “The exercise is to foster friendship among Naval Officers in the world and that can be buttressed by the fact that we all wear the same uniform and our language is the same all over the world. Therefore Chinese Navy are our friends. If there is any problem anywhere in China, I can call any of my friends and ask what the problem is and we could get something done”
Abbah explained the tripartite role of the Navy as Military, Diplomatic and Policing and that what is taking place in Nigeria. He stated that what is being witnessed is the diplomatic role of the Navy. He added that as Chinese and other nations’ships are in Nigeria, so Nigeria could go to other countries which shows that Nigeria has come of age and will be respected because of this.
On the Chinese side, Wu Dongzhu, Naval Senior Captain said the exercise would certainly consolidate Nigeria-China relationship while the Mr. Guan Zhongqi, Acting Chinese Consul General in Lagos, reassured that the geniality between the two countries will continue to stand the test of time.
He also much-admired the Chinese Navy for their participation in the conference and the exercise and he used the opportunity to thank the Nigerian Navy for being the host.