The former Technical Advisor to the Minister of State for Energy, Mr. Dan Kunle, in this interview speaks on sustaining the Nigeria-China relationship as a means for National development and technical advancement. Abolade Adewale brings the excerpts:
What is the current relationship status between Nigeria and China after the crisis that ensued recently?
That small incident is not the type that can disrupt the cordial and harmonious relationship between Nigeria and China. In the last 50 years, as far back as 1981, China was already doing bore hole and water project in Nigeria and they’re dependable partner and we’ve evolved organically with them, they are a partner that we need at this stage of our development and we cannot allow minor issue to distract our attention from the goal post. The matter is resolved already as far as some of us are concerned. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and our Ambassador in China have done excellently in settling the issue.
China meticulousness in curtailing a fresh outbreak may have been misunderstood by Nigerians in China. What do you think to this sir?
People should read about the Chinese. They are cultural people; they’re traditional people and they’ve evolved in the last 5,000 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 have a cultural heritage which has formed 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 1.5 billion people without discipline and grow, the same way they have grown. Sincerely, we have a lot to learn from them.
The recent allegation of maltreatment of Nigerians in China, could it be as a result of language barrier or lack of understanding about their way of life?
You are right. Both issues you have raised are part of the deterministic factors. As often said, when you’re in Rome, you have like the Roman. 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. So, I don’t want this little 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 rule game. So, what I think we should do as Nigerians as we are very enterprising and we are good people is that we should still learn to be patient in other people’s country, particularly emerging country like China. So, we must conform with the people when we go to their home and we should be patient to conform, because Chinese people really like Nigerians and I know of some of them that are answering Nigeria’s names today. So, it is not at this time that we should now be pronouncing petty problems more than they are between us and China, because we’ve gone 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.
You have mentioned something critical about the project of China in Nigeria. Do you have an idea about the type of investments that Nigerians also have in China and how it is contributing to the economy of 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 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 industrial has given them economy of scale. They have first class railway system, first class highway system, they have electricity in excess of 1 million gigawatts, so, it is obvious they have attained economy of scale, by that mere scale, unit price drops. We are 10 percentage of China, both in land mass and almost in population, so Nigerians have invested there to bring home, to me, I see it as an advantage and we should use that advantage wisely. But we cannot be thinking because of that investment, we have given them so much also, and we now want to feel like we have equal rights to just do what you just like in their country with impunity, it is not possible. The bitter truth is that, that 10 percentage of what we are taking out of their country per year, it is nothing to their size. So, Nigerians should stop being arrogant. 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 stand 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 or an experimentation that went wrong?
Its both. Because adventurism gives two results, one is disaster and the other one is fortune. Just as in the case of Christopher Columba when he discovered USA as a sailor, it brought good fortune for him. If he had died, it would have been a disaster, so in adventurism you must expect the two. We don’t know the number of researches 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 know. Whether it is a mistake or a research that made them discover the virus, both are good, because the process of life is try 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.
What advise do you have for Nigerians on peaceful cohabitation with the Chinese in Nigeria? This is based on the premise of an attack on Chinese community in Ogun state and some Nigerian lawyers who filed a law suit against the Chinese.
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 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.
You are known to be a leading business consultant; we will like to know you a little more?
Aside being a business consultant, I am an energy adviser in Abuja. I’m also very involved in oil and gas industry. I used to be an adviser on privatisation. A one-time adviser to the Nigerian government, from Kogi State and was one of the founding members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). For many years I worked in a senior role at the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
Mr. Dan Kunle played pivotal roles in the windup of Nigeria Airways. Kunles extensive experience in the oil sector has always come handy, as he was appointed the technical advisor to the Minister of State for Energy (Gas) Emmanuel Olatunde Odusina during President Umaru YarAduas tenure from 2007 to 2010. His involvements in the writing of the ministers gas master plan were indelible. He is a Business Adviser to several companies in the Upstream, Midstream and Downstream Oil and Gas Sector in Nigeria. He also serves as Business Adviser to the Nigerian Maritime and Sea Port Industry.