President Muhammadu Buhari and Russian President, Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Sochi, Russia, agreed to work together to improve efficiency of Nigeria’s oil sector, which is the backbone of the economy, in a way that will see to rehabilitation of epileptic oil refineries through establishment of framework for a joint venture between Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Russia-based leading oil company, Lukoil.
The two leaders of Russia and Nigeria at a bilateral meeting held on sidelines of ongoing Russia-Africa Summit, also agreed to revive and solidify the venture between the NNPC and Russia’s gas giant, Gazprom for the development of Nigeria’s enormous gas potential and infrastructure.
The issue of uncompleted and abandoned Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill was presented by President Buhari. His request for the return of Russia, on a government-to-government relationship for completion and commissioning of the plant was accepted by President Putin.
Earlier in the day, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch Olamilekan Adegbite had a very fruitful discussion with his counterpart in Russia on Ajaokuta.
The Russia government agreed to support development of Nigeria’s rail infrastructure by constructing 1,400 kilometres track from Lagos to the South-South city of Calabar.
There was also discussion on the advancement of ongoing project for the establishment of a nuclear power plant in Nigeria. According to President Putin, the next step in the implementation of the project should be the commencement of construction of a power plant.
By the above discussions, the two countries have agreed to jointly pursue new infrastructure projects and expand trade and investment, security and military cooperation.
The two Presidents also addressed partnership in education and agriculture. The Russia leader said they would give additional scholarships to Nigerians.
“We seek your Government’s support especially in the areas of wheat production. Today, Nigeria produces less than one hundred thousand metric tons of wheat locally while our imports are projected to exceed five million tons in 2020.
“We therefore need your support to bridge the deficit which will create jobs and save our foreign exchange for other important areas like security, defence and infrastructure,” President Buhari said.
On this, President Putin promised to promote joint efforts, given his country’s ranking as the current number one wheat producer in the world.
“We can do a lot together,” Putin added.
The Russian President said Nigeria should take advantage of Russia’s potassium resources to advance President Buhari’s local fertiliser production program. Putin promised his country’s support for the geological prospection of Nigeria’s solid minerals and gave assurances of working with Nigeria and other African countries to secure and stop the incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as they did in securing the Somali coastal areas.
President Putin expressed further determination to secure Nigeria and the rest of Africa from terrorists. He told President Buhari that 2,000 ex-ISIS terrorists joined Boko Haram last year.
In conclusion, President Buhari said:
“ to move forward, may I suggest that our countries organize the fifth Joint Commission meeting to review and ratify all the agreements (about 40) contained in the Intergovernmental Nigeria-Russia Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation Protocol of November 11, 2016.”
President Putin agreed to the proposal.
Both leaders emphasized the need for reform of United Nations Security Council. President Buhari asked Russia to support Nigeria’s aspiration for a permanent membership of the council