Dr. Zhou Pingjia

Bassey Inyang in Calabar

The government of the Peoples Republic of China has awarded scholarship to 47 Nigerian Students studying various courses at the University of Calabar.

The gesture was in commemoration of the 47th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Nigeria.

The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou-Pingjian, while presenting the awards on behalf of his country at the International Conference Centre of the university, said both countries share many things in common.

“We wish to take China-Nigeria relation to a higher level. This year marks China’s 40 years of reforms and openness. We have reached the level we are today because of three things: strong leadership, policies and hard work.

“Nigeria is much better in natural resources than China but Nigeria’s population is about one third of China’s population so the fear of the pressure to feed ourselves make us work very hard. If we have other alternative, we will adopt it but since we don’t we have identified the three factors which are very serious ingredients to our success.

“There are many similarities between my country and Nigeria. We became an independent country on October 1 just like Nigeria. We are the largest country in Asian while you are the largest in Africa. So, we share many things in common.”

The ambassador also gave some hints about the economic prowess of China in the world, saying that it derived from “reform and open up” policy initiated 40 years ago, which are based on a tripartite system of strong leadership, policy, and good work.

He said after 40 years of that reform and open up policy, China today has become the second largest economy in the world.

On why students of the university are beneficiaries of the scholarship, PingJiang said: “From when this university started in the 70s, from the records I have, it was founded with only about 800 students, but today the number has grown to over 40,000. This is just one of the many achievements of this institution.

“The vice-chancellor knows so much about China and so we choose UNICAL to mark the 47 years Nigeria-China relation because of the honesty of the leadership and its visibility. UNICAL is a leading second generation university in Nigeria so I am impressed with the achievements so far.”

The envoy commended the management of the institution for achieving great strides in academic and infrastructural development within four decades of its existence as full-fledged university.

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Zana Akpagu thanked the ambassador for choosing the institution from the pack of other universities in the country.

He said the award was an indication that the university is steadily gaining international recognition, adding that the institution has established an institute for African and Asian studies.

Akpagu called for the support of the Chinese government so that the institute can succeed.