Russian President, Vladimir Putin has pledged closer ties with Nigeria and other African countries, assuring leaders in the continent that the European country was ready to partner African states to develop their energy, Information Communication, education and health sectors, among others.
This came as Vice President Kashim Shettima said Nigeria would partner with Russia to revive the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, particularly by engaging with key stakeholders in the industry.
They both spoke at the ongoing Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum held at ongoing Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Thursday which was being attended by several African heads of states including Shettima who represented President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.
Shettima is attending the summit with a team of Nigerian delegation.
Other officials at the forum were Nigeria’s Ambassador to Russia, Shehu Abdullahi; Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tugar; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Gabriel Aduda; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mary Ogbe, and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Mr Gbenga Komolafe, among others.
“The sooner we get this plant back to production, the better for everyone. We need to walk the talk; the Nigerian people deserve better”, Shettima said at a meeting with the management of Russian Aluminium Company, UC RUSAL, and other stakeholders in the project on the sideline of the summit.
Meanwhile, Putin noted in his opening remarks that the potential for trade and economic cooperation between Russia and African countries was much higher than the trade turnover of $18bn seen in 2022.
He restated his country’s commitment to food security in Africa and beyond, stressing that “Russia will continue to work towards shaping a more equitable global food distribution system”.
The Russian leader added that his country would increase its support for Africa which accounts for 65 percent of the world’s arable land and around 10 per cent of domestic renewable freshwater sources, noting its huge potential for the further development of agriculture.
He stated that: “I would like to emphasise that Russia is sincerely interested in continuing to promote all-round development and deepen trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation with all African countries. I have no doubt that this forum and the thematic meetings, round tables and talks held within its framework will certainly be useful and will bring us closer to our common goals.
He said: “Our country will continue to support states and regions in need, including with its humanitarian supplies. We are seeking to actively participate in the formation of a more equitable system for the distribution of resources and are doing our utmost to prevent a global food crisis.
“In principle, we are convinced that with the application of appropriate agricultural technologies and the correct organisation of agricultural production, Africa can in the long term not only feed itself and ensure its own food security, but also become an exporter of various types of food. And Russia will only support you, I assure you”.
Meanwhile, the State House Director of Information, Office of the Vice President, Olusola Abiola, in a statement later on Thursday titled ‘Reviving ALSCON: VP Shettima meets stakeholders, restates FG’s determination to resuscitate plant’, said Shettima’s sideline meetings at the event were in furtherance of the efforts by the Federal Government to reactivate production lines at ALSCON by re-engaging with UC RUSAL and other partners in the resuscitation of the plant.
Speaking after a presentation by the UC RUSAL management, Shettima noted the enormous benefits for the economy in many aspects, such as in the area of energy transition, and job creation both directly and indirectly, and its impact on the development of small businesses is also huge.
He urged all the stakeholders to expedite work on the plan of action to restart production at the company.
Earlier, Shettima joined other African leaders at the Russia–Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum declared open by Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
The VP also attended a State banquet hosted by President Putin for the visiting heads of delegation at St. Petersburg’s ExpoForum.