Abuja â€” The President of Russia, Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, is due in Abuja for a one-day official visit today as part of his four-nation African tour that has already taken him to Egypt.
While in Nigeria the Russian President is expected to meet with President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and other officials where the two leaders will discuss bilateral issues.
One of the issues that is said to be at the top of the agenda of Dmitry Medvedev, who formerly served as Chairman of the energy giant Gazprom until his election to the Presidency of Russia, is the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline and other issues relating to Nigeria’s quest to tap its vast gas reserves with the expertise of the Russian gas giant. Indeed according to the Russian Ambassador to Nigeria the two leaders are also expected to sign agreements on transfer of imprisoned persons and co-operation on peaceful use of nuclear power.
Coming about a year after the entrance of the Gazprom into Nigeria, as well as several meetings by officials in Russia and Nigeria, this planned visit is of special significance to the two countries as well as others in the international community. While some in Europe and the USA may be jittery with regards to the entrance of Russia into Nigeria, especially given their fears of further Russian control over European gas supply, this rapport is not strange. Given the significant contribution of the old USSR in keeping this country one in the sixties and the massive investments in Ajaokuta Steel Complex, among others, it is to be expected that a resurgent new Russia, committed to greater economic cooperation with the rest of the world, will seek to renew its economic, cultural and scientific ties with Nigeria.
Nigeria, on its part, is clearly eager to explore new avenues of cooperation and new business models to reduce its overdependence on American and European oil giants for over sixty years, which has been of mixed blessings. It is instructive that Medvedev will fly on to Angola and Namibia, two countries whose freedom from colonialism owes much to the military and economic assistance of the former Soviet Union and to Castro’s Cuba. Angola is also another major sub Saharan oil nation with which Russia seems keen to develop some relationship.
Besides preliminary talks and signings of a Memorandum of Understanding and Head of Agreement there are talks of possible Joint Venture between NNPC and Gazprom on gathering and utilization of the gas currently being flared in the oil producing areas of this country, as well as on exploring and development of new oil and gas fields. We are also aware that other discussions have been held with the relevant ministries on nuclear energy, space technology and manpower development. Russian being the pioneer in space technology we expect Nigeria will benefit from this renewed relationship. We are aware that Gazprom has already has signed a Memorandum and Understanding with the Kaduna based New Nigerian Development Company on the joint development of the two inland blocks, OPLs 809 and 810 Benue Trough and OPLs 732 and 733 in the Chad Basin which are said to have large enough gas reserves for power generation and other possible uses.
Daily Trust expects Nigerian officials who are involved in negotiations on the different areas of relationship to hammer out the best deal on whatever they get to agree with the Russians who will certainly be keen to look after their own interest. With some of the murmur about the problems that led to the Ajaokuta Steel project turning into a white elephant, our officials should not be just keen on their cuts of whatever deals they strike with the Russians or any other major foreign power for that matter but also what is in our national interest.
LAGOS, June 20 – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will become the first leader from Moscow to visit Nigeria when he arrives Wednesday to sign a nuclear energy cooperation agreement between Russia and Nigeria.Â The jointÂ agreement between Russian oil and gas giant Gasprom and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) willÂ be part of what Nigerian presidential spokesman Olusegun AdeniyiÂ calls an â€œhistoric visitâ€ by Mr. Medvedev. Adeniyi said the nuclear agreement â€œis for cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy especially for the purpose of electricityâ€.
Finalizing an agreement signed between Russia and Nigeria inÂ MarchÂ of this year, Russia will help in building nuclear reactors in the West African country, and jointly explore for uranium in natural resource rich Nigeria.
According to a spokesman fromÂ Russiaâ€™s nuclear energy agency Rosatom, theÂ deal will be for â€œjoint exploration and exploitation of uranium depositsâ€ andÂ â€the development of Nigeriaâ€™s nuclear infrastructure.â€
Alexander Polyakov, Russiaâ€™s envoy to Nigeria stated that the agreement was not the only reason for Mr.Â Medvedevâ€™s visit, that â€œother potential areas of cooperation will also be discussed, including military and technical cooperationâ€ noting a developing relationship between the two countries. Mr. Polyakov noted overall the goal of theÂ visit is â€œto bring the Russian/Nigerian partnership to a completely new levelâ€¦ maybe it can be in strategic partnership.â€
Gasprom chief executive Alexei Miller was expected to accompany Mr. Medvedev on the one-day visit.