Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu has said the President’s participation at the Russia-Africa Summit had served Nigeria and Russia’s desire to diversify and strengthen robust bilateral relations between the two countries.
In a statement, he stated that the forum has laid a solid foundation for the promotion of mutually beneficial cooperation between both nations.
Shehu said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Nigeria from his four-day visit to the Russian Republic extremely happy with the success of the visit.
“Based on the results, it must be concluded that the President’s mission was fully accomplished. The definite high point was the decision by the Russians to agree to a government-to-government understanding that would see them return to complete the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill and commission it. Nigeria had expended well over USD5bn without it coming to fruition.”
He listed other gains of the visit to include agreement between both countries to expand cooperation in the energy sector, petroleum and gas, trade and investment, defence and security, mining and steel development, aluminium and phosphate, education and agriculture and a plethora of other issues.
According to Shehu, for every viable project Nigerian officials suggested in the course of the summit, the chances of the financing appeared within sight. “It is in the light of this that one of Russia’s leading rail line service providers, MEDPROM indicated interest in undertaking the 1,400-kilometre Lagos-Calabar rail track that will pass through all the states in the South-South,” he said.
The agreement and MoU signed between NNPC and the Russia’s Lukoil is another spectacular agreement. Lukoil owns seven refineries and a record turnover of USD38bn.
Under the new agreement, the two oil giants will upgrade their commercial relationship to a government-to-government backed partnership, to work together in the upstream operations and in revamping Nigeria’s ill-functioning refineries.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, witnessed the signing ceremony. The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari signed for the Nigerian side, while Vagit Alekperov, President, signed on behalf of Lukoil.
Afterwards, President Buhari expressed willingness to work with Russian businesses to improve the efficiency of the nation’s oil and gas sector, assuring that his administration will ensure implementation of the initiative within the shortest possible time.
The presidential spokesman added: “The Nigerian leader also got a deal for the technological upgrade and timely delivery of the balance of seven, out of an existing order for 12 Attack Helicopters. These, and an assortment of military hardware are direly needed by Nigeria to deal with the new wave of crime bedevilling the country.
“Interestingly, one of the three key themes of the conference is security. African states, with Russia’s support, have drawn up a regional security architecture that would use new technological solutions to ensure security for cities, securing the borders and creating a buffer against the illegal movement of explosives, weapons, drugs and smuggling to reduce terrorist danger to the continent.
“Still on security, the Nigeria-Russia Military Technical Agreement that lapsed a few years ago without being renewed will be given due attention by Nigeria. Russia had been ready with her part.”
Shehu stated that the significance of the agreement was the fact that it opened the door to the procurement of military hardware, on a government-to-government basis, eliminating middlemen and reducing cost, as well as the training of military personnel, modernisation of the armed forces, refurbishment and renewal of infrastructure and equipment, which President Putin was ready to assist Nigeria to undertake.