Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday urged African countries to exploit opportunities provided by the rapid growth of China to transform their economies and living conditions of their people.
Abubakar made the call in Abuja at the launch of a book "China/Africa: Issues, Challenges and Possibilities," written by a public commentator and journalist, Charles Onunaiju.
The former vice president who was chairman of the event, said rather than pandering to western propaganda on China's intentions, African countries, including Nigeria, should seek ways to harness the opportunities provided by China.
He said, "Rather than engaging in a futile debate on whether China's rise and presence in Africa is good or bad for Africa, we as Africans should expend our energies seeking ways to fruitfully engage with China, learn from China and take advantage of the opportunities provided by China's rise including market for our goods, credits, and aid where appropriate."
"In doing so, we should respect China, its people and its sovereignty and insist that China also respects us, our people and our sovereignty. Africa and China should also find ways to enhance cooperation at the international arena so as to contribute to a more equitable, peaceful and cooperative world.
"That should be at the core of Africa's response to China's rise and presence in Africa and the world. That should be at the core of Nigeria's response. As Africans, we ought to have learnt useful lessons from our centuries old relationship with the West that can guide us in our relation with China", he added.
According to him, the challenge for Nigeria's political and business leaders in this regard is to fashion ways to turn thoughts such as these into real practices for engagement with China in a variety of economic political education and cultural ways.