Russia Trip: Buhari’s Achievements, Mission Fully Accomplished ― Presidency

1 year ago Fashanu 0

The Presidency has said the successes recorded by the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Sochi, Russia, where he actively participated in the Russia – Africa Summit, “is mission fully accomplished.”

The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, who in a Special Write-up on the President’s visit to Russia, enumerated the achievements of the visit, specifically condemned what he described as including “a toxic newspaper editorial’’ written by a national newspaper (not Nigerian Tribune).

“President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Nigeria from his four-day visit to the Russian Republic extremely happy with the success of the visit.”

The presidential aide, however, stated that based upon the results of the visit, it must be concluded that the President’s mission was fully accomplished. He noted that the definite high point was the decision by the Russians to agree to a government-to-government understanding that would see them return to complete the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill and commission it.

He lamented that Nigeria had expended well over five billion dollars without it coming to fruition.

When he (Buhari) campaigned early in the year for his re-election, which he won with a majority of four million votes, marking a difference of 14 per cent against his closest rival, President Buhari reiterated an earlier promise to complete Ajaokuta to provide jobs and the steel backbone that the nation’s industrial complex needed so desperately.

“Could this have been achieved if he had locked himself inside the Aso Rock Villa? The answer is obviously a “no.” “Yet, this was not all that he secured. Presidents Buhari and Vladimir Putin opened a “new chapter” in the historically important relationship between the two countries.

“They both agreed to expand cooperation in energy sector, petroleum and gas, trade and investment, defence and security, mining and steel development, aluminium and phosphate, education and agriculture and a plethora of other issues.

This to my pleasure had been spelled out in an elaborate manner by Tonye Princewill, an astute leader in the All Progressives Congress (APC), in an opinion article he widely circulated,’’ he added.

President Putin noted that the traditionally friendly relationship between Nigeria and his country has gained a new momentum, symbolized by a 93 per cent growth in trade between the two nations in 2018. He promised that “Russian companies are ready to offer their scientific and technological developments to their African partners, and share their experience of upgrading energy, transport and communications infrastructure.”

He further explained that “in President Buhari’s view, this summit was a necessary anchor “to kick start what has been a very cordial and mutually beneficial relationship in past years…there are similarities between Russia’s journey under your leadership (Putin’s) and Nigeria’s aspirations for the future.

We can learn a lot from the experiences of Russia’s ongoing reforms of transitioning from an oil-dependent economy to a modern, diversified and inclusive economy

To this end, he said one of Russia’s leading rail line service providers, MEDPROM indicated their interest in undertaking the 1,400-kilometer Lagos-Calabar rail track that will pass through all the states in the South-South sub-region. He maintained that the agreement and MoU signed between the NNPC and Russia’s Lukoil was another spectacular agreement along these lines. Lukoil owns seven refineries and a record turnover of 38 billion dollars. He said the two oil giants would upgrade their commercial relationship to a government-to-government backed partnership, to work together in upstream operations and in revamping Nigeria’s ill-functioning refineries.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari signed for the Nigerian side while Vagit Alekperov, President, signed on behalf of Lukoil. In support of this, he said, President Buhari made clear that he wished to work with Russian businesses to improve the efficiency of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, giving a strong assurance that his administration will “ensure this initiative is implemented within the shortest possible time.”

He said: “Of no less significance is the MoU resolving past issues, paving the way for the revival of the rested joint venture between the NNPC and Russia’s gas giants, GASPROM for the development of Nigeria’s enormous gas resources and its infrastructure.

In that waggish but poisonous editorial, the newspaper in question raised concerns about terrorism, kidnapping and general insecurity in the country. “It asked a question, wondering why the President would travel abroad when there is, in the country, the problem of kidnapping and fire from oil tankers had caused the loss of life and devastation of shops.

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