Ozolua Uhakheme

Governor Willie Obiano has tasked the Chinese government to help facilitate the completion of some projects being handled by Chinese companies in the state, especially the international airport.

He said due to the slow pace of work at the airport, the Anambra State government had undertaken the construction of one of the runways until the company is ready to commence work in full.

The governor, who spoke while receiving the delegation of Chinese officials, led by China Ambassador to Nigeria Dr Zhou Pingjians, in Awka, stated that Anambra has many beautiful cultural sites, which his administration has painstakingly upgraded in the past one year in order to qualify either Owere Ezukala or Ogbunike Cave as UNESCO world heritage site.

The visit was the fallout of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artwork, Culture and Tourism existing cultural exchange programmes with the Chinese in the past one year.

“We have cultural artefacts which represent different periods in our development like the Igbo-Ukwu culture, all these are interesting things to be explored in Anambra,” he said.

The governor reiterated Anambra State government’s readiness to partner the Chinese to build a cultural exchange centre as conceived by the ministry, and a consulate office in the state, as well as speedy completion of the airport.

Anambra State Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artwork, Culture and Tourism Mrs Sally Mbanefo thanked the Chinese ambassador for inviting Anambra Cultural Troupe as the only cultural troupe to perform in the Chinese New Year celebrations in Abuja last January.

She disclosed that Anambra State and China have agreed to partner in building a cultural centre in Awka, noting that ‘our universities are already offering in Mandarin as a course.’

According to Mbanefo, over 70 percent of the visa applications in Nigeria are from Anambra State, and so “we have agreed on the need to establish a consulate in Awka. We are also building an airport in Anambra State and we are collaborating with Chinese on this.”

She assured the delegation that Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria while commending the Chinese government for offering to train Anambra State cultural troupe in calisthenics in China. She noted that the Chinese have earlier lavished Anambratroupe with gifts and have invited the troupe to Chinese New Year next year.

China Ambassador to Nigeria Dr Zhou Pingjian said that the aim of the visit was to explore cooperation opportunities at sub-national level, noting that China-Nigeria relations has been cordial and very productive and as such should cut across board at all levels.

He praised the vision of Anambra State government, stating that China is working in sync with the vision of Anambra State.

“In China, the Congress has passed a law on foreign investment, which is in line with the vision of Anambra State. China is creating more enabling environment for foreign investors,” he said.

He stressed that Nigeria and China have so much in common in terms of economic and population size that there is no limit to their cooperation.

The Ambassador thanked Governor Obiano for sending the state cultural troupe to their New Year celebration while commending the troupe for the spectacular performance. He also assured the state of their readiness to help facilitate all projects being handled by the Chinese companies in the state.