Experts urge Nigeria to explore Belt and Road Initiative opportunities

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"The Belt and Road Initiative should not be seen as something distant. It should not be seen as something that will only benefit China and its neighboring countries. It is an all-inclusive initiative and open to all.

Charles Onunaiju, director of the Center for China Studies in Abuja and convener of the think-tank forum, said going by the successes of China-Africa cooperation from which Nigeria and other African countries have benefited so much, the Belt and Road Initiative offers Nigeria an ideal platform in conducting cooperation not only with China, but also with all participating countries.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (2nd R) attends the commissioning of Locomotives in Kaduna, Nigeria, Jan. 4, 2018. Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated 10 additional coaches and two locomotive engines to the existing ones to boost the country's first completed standard gauge railway modernization project assisted by China. (Xinhua)

"Nigeria can make use of this opportunity to be a key player since we are the most populous nation in Africa and it will benefit us a lot to be part of this," said Ogunsina who also participated in the 2017 Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road in Beijing.

"It is about people, engagement, connectivity, and integration with a view to building a community of common destiny and common humanity. It is believed that what humanity has in common is much more profound than what divides us," he noted.

Bukola Ogunsina, a local journalist who had just returned from an exchange program in China, said through the platform of Belt and Road Initiative, Nigeria can obtain more opportunities to strengthen its infrastructure, diversify its economy and integrate itself into the world economy.

A woman walks past the poster of StarTimes in Hulumi community in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, on Aug. 10, 2017. StarTimes, a Chinese firm which offers direct-to-home pay TV services, introduced its digital TV service to the locality as part of its pilot project to provide satellite TV in five Nigerian villages. The project is a fruit of one of the resolutions of the 2015 summit of Forum On China-Africa Cooperation, in Johannesburg, South Africa, in which the Chinese government pledged to provide satellite TV in 10,000 African villages. (Xinhua/Zhang Baoping)

ABUJA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria stands to benefit a lot from the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, according to experts speaking at a recent dialogue held in the Nigerian capital.

Nigeria's foreign ministry said it will welcome various recommendations by the experts and develop the right framework for Nigeria to benefit hugely from the Belt and Road.

"The Belt and Road is a route of commerce, trade, culture and intellectual exchange between China and her trade partners. Nigeria has to find a place to get involved. We must find a niche," Onunaiju said.

According to him, the interesting thing about the Belt and Road is that it is an open process where everyone can find a niche and a place to key in.

The initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with visions to connect Asian, European and African countries more closely and promote mutually beneficial cooperation.

The foreign ministry said it will liaise with other federal ministries and agencies of government to position Nigeria in the right place to engage with the rest of the world through the initiative.

The experts urged the government to form an inter-ministerial commission to develop a policy framework through which the west African powerhouse can tap into the opportunities that abound in the initiative.

The experts, drawn from the academia, the media, corporate, political and economic spheres, said it was time for Nigeria to strategically exploit the opportunity China is providing to improve the nation's economy.