As the Communist Party of China (CPC) marks a century since its founding on July 1, 1921, some Nigerian politicians including President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo have saluted the achievement of the CPC in the last 100 years.
To commemorate the event in Abuja, Nigerian scholars and China enthusiasts gathered to examine the party’s century of existence and party politics in Nigeria.
When former leader, Deng Xiaoping announced a reform and opening-up programme in 1978, on the back of a tumultuous Cultural Revolution, China was one of the poorest countries in the world, poorer even than most sub-Saharan African countries.
Over the 40 years of the project, over 800 million people were provided with sustainable livelihoods and homes. By December 2020, 832 national-level counties have an increased purchasing power of above 4.2 LCU in 2019.
As of November 2020, disposable income for rural dwellers in China was ¥27, 540 which is $2, 463.55, while that of urban dwellers is ¥64, 084 which is about $9, 868.34.
Having attracted investment in virtually all areas of the economy, from physical infrastructure to the digital, to the marine and outer space, China operates in the big league.
By the end of 2020 in China, 300, 000 5G base stations were extended to all prefecture-level cities, taking internet access to about 1 billion more persons.
Speaking during the ceremony to mark the 100 years of the party at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing on July 1, President Xi Jinping said the people have realized the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and is marching to the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects.
China 5, 000-year history has been checkered by factors that culminated in the Marxism-Leninism ideology.
Xi said China’s defeat by Western powers in the Opium War of 1840 reduced the country to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society. From these shambles, China rediscovered the spirit of national rejuvenation.
“With the salvos of Russia’s October Revolution in 1917, Marxism-Leninism was brought to China. Then in 1921, as the Chinese nation was undergoing a great awakening and Marxism-Leninism was becoming closely integrated with the Chinese workers’ movement to form the Communist Party of China.
“The founding of the party in China was an epoch-making event, which profoundly changed the course of Chinese history, transformed the future of the Chinese people and nation, and altered the landscape of world development,” Xi said.
The peasantry in the Yihetuan Movement or the Boxer Rebellion and the marches across the country calling for an end to imperialism culminating in the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 led by Sun Yat-sen, which finally overthrew the Qing Dynasty to form the republic, and the May Fourth Movement of 1919 led by Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao and Mao Zedong that eventually ushered in the formation of the party.
President Xi said, “Since the very day of its founding, the Party has made seeking happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation its aspiration and mission. All the struggle, sacrifice, and creation through which the Party has united and led the Chinese people over the past hundred years has been tied together by one ultimate theme-bringing about the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
“By carrying out the socialist revolution, we eliminated the exploitative and repressive feudal system that had persisted in China for thousands of years and established socialism as our basic system. In the process of socialist construction, we overcame subversion, sabotage, and armed provocation by imperialist and hegemonic powers, and brought about the most extensive and profound social changes in the history of the Chinese nation. This great transformation of China from a poor and backward country in the East with a large population into a socialist country laid down the fundamental political conditions and the institutional foundations necessary for realizing national rejuvenation.”
He paid glowing tributes to the past leaders of the party, and by extension, the country, such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Chen Yun, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao and noted that the party has grown over the years to more than 95 million members.
In his letter, President Buhari hailed the CPC for achieving its centennial goal.
He commended the resolute response and remarkable success made by China in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its contribution to the world and Africa in particular by sharing experience, knowledge and medical relief materials.
He said, “The past 50 years have witnessed an increasingly enhanced political trust, closer mutually beneficial economic and trade relations and cumulatively dynamic people to people exchange between Nigeria and China.
“Nigeria highly values the bilateral cooperation with China, under the initiatives of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which have brought tangible benefits to Nigeria and its people.”
Former President Obasanjo said China is one of the most important lenders of development finance to Nigeria. Chinese firms and finance play a prominent role in Nigeria’s infrastructure development.
In comparing notes, Nigerian scholars including Professors Yusuf Zoaka of the University of Abuja, Udenta Udenta (author) Dharma Nazifi, Sheriff Ghali, including Issa Aremu, Senator Shehu Sani and Charles Onunaiju identified lack of ideology, discipline and vision as major causes of political party failure and national underdevelopment.
Although the early pre-independent political parties were primed to wrest the government from the colonial powers, they were consumed thereafter by several intractable contradictions including military coups.
It was observed that the newer parties, which have been floated over the years of civil rule, have failed to drive any national vision for development and unity.
For Professor Udenta, having seen the need to renew itself and reinvent its ideas, the Communist party was used as a vanguard of the people to transition to a market economy.
Also speaking, activist and former lawmaker Senator Shehu Sani called on China, as a major infrastructure creditor, to pay more attention to governance issues in Nigeria and the country’s ability to repay some of the loans
The Executive Director of the Centre for China Studies, Charles Onunaiju, called on political parties in Nigeria to learn from CPC’s multi-party consultation and consensus building in national development.
Prof Zoaka said the CPC’s ability to work with other political parties is development-oriented, unlike the bitterness surrounding opposition and ruling party politicking in Nigeria.
“Outside elections, they are not doing anything for the party. They are not involved in political education, political party recruitment and any type of training to even members of their parties to be aware of party policies and programmes. But the CPC has party schools,” he said.
In his speech, the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Cui Jianchun, announced a new strategy for Nigeria known as the 5GIST Nigeria-China Growth Development Progress (GDP) strategy.
The new strategic partnership will see China ramp up the goals of political, economic, military, international and people to people cooperation with Nigeria under the ‘5-Goals’, while the ‘I’ will see more intervention in infrastructure, ICT, Industry, Investment, Import and Export and other bilateral areas of cooperation.