Daniel Dayo Kunle is a business advisor to several companies in the upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas Sectors in Nigeria. He also serves as business adviser to the Nigerian Maritime and Sea Port Industry. In this interview with OLUSHOLA BELLO, he x-rays the trade relations between China and Nigeria and how it has impacted on the countries’ economy.
Assessment of Nigeria-China relationship since the recent Ghaunzhou issues
That incident is not the type that should disrupt the cordial and harmonious relationship that has existed between Nigeria and China in the last 40 to 50 years. As far back as 1981, China was already drilling borehole and water project in Nigeria and they’re dependable partners. The Nigeria-china relationship has evolved organically, they are a partner that we need at this stage of our development and we cannot allow such issues to distract our attention from the goal post. I believe the issues have been largely matter is resolved already. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and our Ambassador in China have done excellently well in settling the issue.
The Chinese and their way of life?
People should read about the Chinese. They are cultural people; they’re traditional people and they’ve evolved in the last 5000 years with one language. They are disciplined people and they are committed to their culture and traditions. It is not easy for you to have 1.5 billion people being managed carefully like that. They are very traditional, artistic and very cultural, so when they want things done, they get it done. Just like the wall they built, it can only be compared with the Pyramid in Egypt or the Seven Wonders of the World because it is meticulous. So, when relating to them, you should know this people has a cultural heritage which has form their strong DNA in handling any issue, they approach it from their traditions and culture. Even their medicine is being practiced traditionally. So, it is not easy to have contained 1.5 billion people with discipline and grow with the same way they have grown. Sincerely, we have a lot to learn from them.
How Africans resident in China understand the Chinese and their culture as a result of language barrier
You are right. Both issues you have raised are part of the factors. As often said, when you’re in Rome, you behave like the Romans. If you go to someone’s country to do business, won’t you conform to the culture be and traditions? Are Nigerians living across the world like USA, Germany and England not conforming to the culture and traditions over there? So, why should China be and exception? If you go to China or Japan and you want to live there, you must conform to their norms. I really would not want the recent Ghuanzhou incident to make Nigerians become so agitated about the Chinese relationship in this country. We have gone beyond that, long time ago. We cannot operate in silo any more, we need one another in this present world.
The world is a global place and you must play in accordance with the rules of global engagement. So, what I think we should do as Nigerians who are very enterprising is that we should still learn to be patient in other people’s country, particularly emerging country like China. So we must conform to the people culture when we go to their home. Chinese people really like Nigerians and I know some of them that are bearing local Nigeria names today. So, it is not at this time that we should act in ways that could aggravate issues between both countries, because we’ve come too far together. We should respect mutual understanding among nations, because China need us and we need them. Many Nigerians don’t know of so many projects going on in Nigeria that are being carried out by China. So, I believe we’ve managed the incident mutually. I respect the way our Minister of Foreign Affairs, our Ambassador in China and our President have handled it. I don’t see any problem; we’re moving on already.
Type of investment that Nigerians also have in China
You see, China is the new workshop of the world, the new industrial engineering workshop of the world is China. Our level of import from China is so high, because they manufacture virtually everything, including the telephone we’re using. Many Nigerians have to go there to invest money in their factories to produce for them directly because they want to produce here, but we do not have the integrated industrial infrastructure to make us produce competitively, like them, so, you’ll have to go to them to produce the quantity of what you need, because they’ve achieved economy of scale in China.
Because their integrated industry has given them economy of scale. They have first class railway system; they have electricity in excess of 1 million Giga Watts. So, it is obvious they have attained economy of scale, by that mere scale, unit price drops. We are about 10 percentage of China, both in land mass and almost in population, Nigerians have made investments there to bring home, to me, I see it as an advantage and we should use that advantage wisely. But we cannot on the basis of our investments in their production lines feel that we have given them so much and we now on the basis of that feel we have equal rights to act at will in their country with impunity, it is not possible.
For me as a person, with this Coronavirus pandemic, I’m pleading with our leadership in Nigeria to invite the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) to the table and let them have a visit to China. Let us engage the Chinese to come and help us in redeeming our health care structure. We need this people, we can do it on our own if we can patiently go through what they have gone through, they patiently used 3000 years to do it on their own. So, if we want it to be like we don’t need anybody, we should be patient to do it on our own, but if you need a helping hand today, you need the whole world and China stands out to be the number one country we can rely on today.
Do you think the outbreak of Coronavirus in China is another form of discovery from them or just unfortunate that it broke out from them?
It’s both. Because adventurism gives two results, one is disaster and the other one is fortune. Just as in the case of Christopher Columbus when he discovered USA as a sailor, it brought good fortune for him. Had it been he died, it would have been a disaster, so in adventurism you must expect the two. We don’t know the number of research works in the laboratory that had failed and the number of scientists that have died in the course of their research, it is only the successful ones that we get to know. Whether it is a mistake or a research that made them discover the virus, both are good, because the process of life is trial and error. So the good of this Coronavirus is that we are going to get out of it and we should try and relate closely with the Chinese to gain more from them.
Advise to Nigerians with regards the Chinese that are here with particular reference on the attack on Chinese community in Ogun State
My fellow citizens, good people of Nigeria, don’t let us develop any unnecessary hatred and quarrel with the Chinese. This is my appeal to Nigerians. Any Chinese in any part of Nigeria, we should please treat them with respect and dignity. If you have problem with any of them, individual or group of company, we should please follow the rules of law, we have no reason to be hostile to the Chinese, either across this country or anywhere in Africa. If they are in business with you and you are not happy with it, find a way to resolve it either by legal means or going to the embassy, go to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, use all these legitimate processes to resolve your problem with them. Don’t embark on hostility because the damages that it would cause is unquantifiable to us, we should calm down and look at the reality on ground. China is a country that has their restaurant almost every country around the world and if you eat their food, you become their friend and you know food is culture. China is too big as a country to get involved in petty fighting. China have built close to 20 thousand kilometer of modern highway in the last 20 years, the same way with super railway. People should go there and see; you will know these guys cannot be taken for granted.