Chris Steven, Abuja
Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, has identified the provision of infrastructure, industrialization and Information Technology (IT) as critical areas that require solid co-operation between Nigeria and China for economic revival and growth.
Saraki, according to a statement from his Media Office, in Abuja, stated this when he hosted the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Zhou Pingjian in his office.
The Senate President lauded the excellent relationship between Nigeria and China and said there was need to take it further in more mutually beneficial ways.
He noted that Nigeria has demographic similarities with China and expressed hope that both countries will be able to resolve any outstanding issue towards deepening their relationship.
Senator Saraki said there was ample room for Chinese investors to invest in the textile industry in the northern part of the country towards reviving commercial activities there.
He also called for better parliamentary co-operation between the National Assembly and the Peoples Assembly of China through the exchange of ideas on parliamentary best practices.
Saraki said: “We can further deepen the relationship between us and be able to put behind us some of the long outstanding issues and then break into new areas that we all wish for. I think there is no doubt today that Nigeria as a country – both as a government and a people – that we really treasure the importance of a relationship with China. I want to reemphasize that as we look at the present government’s policies and direction, we believe that there is a great role for your country to play. There is a lot that we can do together to build trust,” he said.
In a related development, Saraki has pledged the co-operation and support of the Senate for all financial institutions offering non-interest based financial services in Nigeria. He said that non-interest financial services would be most appreciated in this country especially now that the economy is in recession.
Dr. Saraki, while addressing the Chairman of of the Board Of Directors of Jaiz Bank Plc, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab and members of the management team who visited him in his office also stated that the recently passed Public Procurement law by the Senate was aimed at stimulating the Nigerian economy, especially now that the economy of the country is in recession.
The Senate President said the National Assembly will ensure a level playing ground for all banks operating in Nigeria, especially in the area of ensuring that same laws regulating all banking institutions apply to those offering the non-interest financial services.
“I commend Jaiz bank and your dogged determination in ensuring that the services of non interest bank has taken root in Nigeria. Our duty and responsibility is to ensure that your bank and other financial institutions offering non interest services have a fair playing ground with other banking and financial institutions in the country. The Senate is reviewing some economic laws and it is our duty that the right laws are created for the smooth operations of all banks and financial institutions”, Saraki said.
While Mr. Pingjian lauded Nigeria for its great strides and pledged to further deepen diplomatic relations between China and Nigeria, Dr Mutallab said the visit was to intimate lawmakers on the proposed changes in tax laws and the need to specially cater for non-interest finance by ensuring a level playing field.