…Seeks stronger security, economic cooperation
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.
This was contained in a statement by his chief press secretary, Sanni Onogu.
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.
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.
“Our position, therefore, is simple: those who are serious about expanding their interests in Africa must necessarily see Nigeria – the powerhouse in the region – as the gateway to the continent,” he said.
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.
“We hope for your continued cooperation and partnership towards combating the threat; and with your support, I have no doubt that Nigeria will prevail,” he said.