The Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Hassan Elkanem Hassan, is canvassing for increased Russian patronage of Nigerian Brent crude oil while calling for a deeper trade relationship between the two countries.
Hassan put the current volume of trade between Nigeria and Russia at $350m annually, adding that all of it was in favour of Russia.
The trade, he said, was basically in the importation of fertilizers, finished petroleum product (diesel), dynamite for construction companies and finished consumer goods.
To ensure that Nigeria also benefit from this trade relationship, the envoy, in a statement on Wednesday, said a business forum comprising about 150 Nigerian firms and businessmen began in Moscow on Wednesday.
He said the business forum, which closes today (Thursday), would offer opportunities for Nigerian businessmen, companies, banks and private individuals to rub minds with their Russian counterparts on the need for improved business ties.
He said, “I want to see Russia trade in our Brent crude oil, which is one of the best in the world. Basically, I want Nigeria and Nigerians to explore relationships with Russia in the areas of oil and gas, construction and housing, agriculture and agric processing as well as power and energy.
“Despite the size of Russia, they generate enough electricity that powers the country and its businesses. Their rail system is well organised and I want to see Nigerians take interest in this.
“The purpose of this business forum is for Nigerians to see how things are run in that country and replicate it in our country. Nigeria can provide a solid agricultural partnership with Russia.
“We must get our acts together and achieve greatness with what God has given us. Our main aim is to have top Russian businessmen invest their money and technology in Nigeria.”
Hassan also pointed out that Russia had the largest gas reserve in the world as well as a strong technology in energy development that Nigeria could take advantage of for greater economic ties.
The Managing Director, Kitari Consult Limited and a consultant to the forum, Alhaji Ali Magashi, said though Russia and Nigeria lacked colonial ties, there was the need to work together and that the forum would build and incubate a bilateral relationship between the two countries.
He said, “Nigeria needs to know what is responsible for the growth of the Russian economy, which will continue to grow at 70 per cent per annum despite the fact that in Europe, the economy is currently in a depression.”
Information from Punch was used in this report.