The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has sought stronger security, economic and cultural cooperation between Nigeria and Russia.
Saraki stated this in his historic address yesterday at the Upper Chamber of the Russian Parliament known as the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, in Moscow.
The Senate President is the first head of the Nigerian legislature to perform such a function in Russia.
He appreciated the Chairperson of the Federation Council, Ms. Valentina Matviyenko for the invitation and expressed confidence that the event would mark a new phase of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the two nations.
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.”
He stated that Nigeria and Russia share certain, striking similarities adding 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.
He further called on the Russian Government to reckon with Nigeria as the central area of focus in Africa, by taking a more serious view of its longstanding ties with the country.
“As a fellow oil producing nation, we do believe that Russia has a keen insight on some of the challenges we face in Nigeria with regard to the economy, as well as our drive towards diversification.
“As your economy, like ours, recovers from recession, we say that part of the consolidation process must be a stronger focus on Africa, and Nigeria in particular.
“As leaders of our nations’ parliaments, therefore, we must think of not just today but well into the future, to pursue and implement initiatives that release the potentials of our peoples in their desire for economic development.
“With Russia and Nigeria projected to be the biggest economies in Europe and Africa respectively in just three decades from now, it would be a travesty if we did not strive to strengthen cooperation and partnership to reap the gains in terms of GDP growth.”
He said that Nigeria and Russia need to collaborate more to develop common strategies for tackling the problem of terrorism and human trafficking as their contribution sustainable peace in the larger world..