President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday addressed the Upper Chamber of the Russian Parliament known as the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, in Moscow.
In the address which was historic – being the first head of the Nigerian legislature to perform such a function in Russia – Saraki called for a stronger security, economic and cultural cooperation between Nigeria and Russia.
The President of the Senate thanked the Chairperson of the Federation Council, Ms. Valentina Matviyenko for the invitation to visit the Russian Parliament and expressed confidence that the event would mark a new phase of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the two nations, as well as a springboard for renewed vigour in Nigeria-Russia relations in general.
He insisted that since aid alone cannot mitigate the enormous socio-economic challenges confronting the country, it is imperative for both countries to engage in partnerships that would “open the door to new investments and other opportunities.”
Saraki said: “Nigeria’s leadership role in Africa is unassailable. An improved relationship between us would be a definitive pathway to a stronger relationship with the whole of Africa.
“Let us, therefore, pledge to revitalise the ties between our two countries. It is important, at this point, to stress that the relationship we seek is one based on partnership.
“We recognise that aid alone will no longer sufficiently tackle the challenges ahead. Partnership, on the other hand, will open the door to new investments and other opportunities.
“It is for this reason that we in Nigeria are putting a lot of effort into ensuring that we build a strong foundation for the future and one of the ways we are doing that is by deepening links with other parliaments such as yourselves, because legislation is a necessary key to unlocking potentials in people, and delivering better prospects for citizens.
“I therefore come to you today as an economic ambassador of Africa’s largest economy. Our economy is increasingly stable and offers immense potential for investment.
“Our people are self-motivated, ambitious and seeking new opportunities and avenues to make their mark in the dynamic world of today. And I say to you: let us work together to explore new and exciting areas of cooperation and economic opportunities that will be mutually beneficial to our peoples.
“For us, there are compelling arguments for looking to Russia. I say this for the obvious reason that our two countries share certain, striking similarities,” he said.
Saraki noted that in the emerging global order, world powers are looking to Africa because “Africa is not merely rising; Africa is here. There is a world of opportunities on the continent.”
According to him, the 54 nations of Africa represent a huge geographical bloc with enormous potential for investment and strategic partnerships that would benefit only those that venture.