By Adedayo Akinwale
The federal government and the Russian Federation have establish the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry to boost the economic relations between both countries.
The Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Alexey Shebarshin, while speaking at the event on Thursday in Abuja, said Russia had a very good industrial, agricultural and scientific potentials which were of interest to local businessmen in Nigeria.
He said the joint work by both countries would be very fruitful because Nigeria and Russia have a lot to offer to each other in the areas of industry, mineral resources, modern technologies, among others.
According to Shebarshin, “For a long time, we have been interacting with different Russian and Nigerian Chambers, but the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry that was created at the initiative of Mr. Obiora, I can say that it is the most important initiative that will unite Nigeria and Russia businessmen.
“I am really very glad because it is the day that I have been waiting for quite a long time and again, I am very glad to see you. I am very open for contact. You can come and see us at anytime when you count it necessary,” Shebarshin said.
The newly established chamber of commerce and industry had Dr. Obiora Okonkwo as president and founder, with Alhaji Sardina Dantata, a business man with strong links in Russia; Chijioke Okoli, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Linus Awute, a Russian trained-graduate and former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health; Chief Nnamdi Nwigwe, Emeka Obianozie as directors.
Speaking earlier during the introduction of the chamber of commerce and industry to the Russian Ambassador, Okonkwo said he was at the embassy to present the founding directors of the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry to the Russian envoy.
He said diplomatically, both countries have not had any disagreement on any issue, even at the multilateral level, noting that Russia and Nigeria have always supported each other for their mutual interest when it mattered most.
Okonkwo noted that Russia had been silently supporting manpower development for Nigeria, adding that he is one of the Russian products in the country.
He added, “I proudly went to school in Russia on scholarship. We have hundreds of Nigerian professors in different Nigerian universities trained in Russia on scholarship. We still have thousands of Nigerians still studying in Russia on scholarships.
“The level of manpower development Nigeria has benefited from Russia since the 70s have been awesome. We believe that under this platform, the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce, we will bring each and everyone together to try to promote trade and commerce. We will also be involved to facilitate both micro and macro activities.”
Okonkwo stressed that Russia has a lot to offer Nigeria in the area of technological development, adding that Russia has the know-how and Russia in so many ways has so many things Nigeria needs to become a great nation.
He assured Shebarshin that the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry would do its best and would work in collaboration with him to boost trade and economic activities between both countries.
Okonkwo recalled former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Nigeria in 2007 during which he signed about 13 bilateral agreements with Nigeria.
He said the signing of the agreements showed a healthy relationship between both countries, while also recalling the invitation and participation of President Muhammadu Buhari last year in the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia.
Okonkwo said, “We believe that in this chamber, I and my colleagues, we will work so hard to let both sides see the economic and commercial potentials.
“We will expose to Russian people, businessmen and institutions, the great potentials of investments that are available in Nigeria and at the same time, we will expose to the Nigerian side, great opportunities that there are in Russia, for so many things to offer in trade, commerce and development. We believe with this, in no long distant future, the relationship would have cemented properly for the mutual benefit of our country and our citizens.”