The Nigerian Embassy lies in Beijing’s Sanlitun, an area in Chaoyang District popular among ex-pats with a large number of embassies. Ambassador Baba Ahmad Jidda office is on the second floor.
If you ask him to show you one of the fancy things he keeps, he will probably show you something his wife bought for him – a special Chinese plant. “My wife brought it to my office. She said this one brings you a lot of fortune, a lot of money.
Chinese Bank of China money will come to this, the Export and Import Bank money will come, so I send it to Nigeria for infrastructure development,” Jidda said.
Baba Ahmad Jidda took up his current post in September 2017.
At the beginning of the year, he went back to Nigeria for the Christmas holiday. When Wuhan was struck by COVID-19, he decided to rush back to Beijing.
“China is our second home. So I discussed with my wife and said we cannot be away from China during the difficult time of China. And in any case, there were so many Nigerians in China, especially students.
So there is a need for me to go back, as a captain of the ship to ensure we sink or swim with China. So I returned to Beijing with my wife. And everybody was surprised to see us because the airport was empty, very few people. Few immigration officers were even there. It was like there was nobody,” Baba Ahmad Jidda recalled.
“We have 75 Nigerians in Wuhan, 65 of them were student, 10 are other Nigerians. I told them ‘please stay put. I assure you that things will be good.’ So we sent them support, and the government did more than we did to support the students and other Nigerians.
I made a press conference, a press release, urging all Nigerians to stay in China, assuring them that sooner or later China will do something about the COVID-19. Finally, I’ve been vindicated that China contained the virus.
In the whole world today, China is the safest. Therefore I feel very proud that I have taken that bold decision to come back to China when everybody was running out of China,” he said.
He said the construction company China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, undertaking railways and airports in Nigeria, was very helpful in fighting the pandemic.
“Loads of medical equipment and medical personnel, you know, were sent to Nigeria, and they have done a great job. They trained my people, making sure some the equipment that we lacked was provided, and we have since been cooperating in that area, and we’ll not stop appreciating China for the support that was most needed at the time it was given,” said the ambassador.
Baba Ahmad Jidda and his wife also made personal contributions to encourage Chinese people.
“My wife is the President of the Commonwealth Society in Beijing. That society is like a charity organization. During the pandemic, they decided to support the medical facility in Wuhan hospitals. They contributed some 200,000 RMB for the support of hospitals who are taking care of the affected patients,” he said.
“I personally took as an ambassador, I have made a contribution to students and other Nigerians in my own capacity, 25,000 to 30,000 yuan before the government came to my help,” he added.
He said with the coronavirus situation now under control in China, health is still the focus of bilateral cooperation.
“China believes in multilateralism. China does not operate alone. China must ensure that other countries in the world also get healthy. Maybe that’s the reason his Excellency President Xi Jinping contributed some $2 billion during the last World Health Assembly.
Maybe that’s why China is everyday supporting the World Health Organization because it’s very important for other countries to be healthy, for us to conduct or bilateral relations, especially African countries,” he said.
“We cannot wait to receive [a] vaccine from China, we cannot wait to see China sending millions of vaccines to Africa, so that the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative you know, to have healthy countries, to have healthy bilateral and multilateral relationship with China,” he added.
Responding to words saying China’s been setting a debt trap for Africa, he said, “If you are [a] naive type of leader, you’ll be frightened of what the Western press says about China’s loans to Africa. But our leaders are responsible leaders, our leaders are intellectuals, they are educated, they know what’s good for their people.”
Baba Ahmad Jidda said he had been to almost every province in the country, and he praised China’s development blueprint, saying that the “Five-Year Plan” is an important tool for the country’s progress.
“The 14th development plan of China is like a global plan. It encompasses almost everything the world is going through because China has reached a point where whatever it does, affects the rest of the world.
The plan has its ramifications to friendly countries, like African countries, they mentioned the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation, mentioned the Belt and Road Initiative, and these are areas that touch on several other countries of the world,” he said.
Baba Ahmad Jidda said he’s staying in China for his second three-year term, as he aims to deepen the already friendly ties between his host, and home, country.