The Nigerian Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has sought stronger bond between Nigeria and Russia as he visits the country.
He made this known while addressing the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on Wednesday.
Mr Saraki, who was invited by the chairperson of the Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, called for the beginning of a new phase of interparliamentary cooperation between the two nations, as well as a springboard for renewed vigour in Nigeria-Russia relations in general.
In a statement from his media office, he called for cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism and human trafficking.
“For one, Russia is currently one of the destinations where young Nigerians are trafficked for sexual exploitation. This is a worrying phenomenon for both our countries, and we should develop common strategies for tackling the problem. We look to Russia to join us in building stronger collaboration for the fight against this common enemy.
“Terrorism, most significantly in the shape of the Boko Haram sect, has continued to pose a serious challenge to the internal security of Nigeria,” he said.
He appreciated the country for supplying military equipment and assisting Nigeria with the training of personnel, adding that while Boko Haram is largely decimated now, the threat remains, and new terrorism challenges are arising.
While stating that Africa is the future, the Senate president said those who are serious about expanding their interests in Africa must necessarily see Nigeria – the powerhouse in the region – as the gateway to the continent.
“Russia should reckon with Nigeria as the central area of focus in Africa, and take a more serious view of its longstanding ties to our end of the world.
“With Russia and Nigeria projected to be the biggest economies in Europe and Africa respectively in just three decades from now, it would be a travesty if we did not strive to strengthen cooperation and partnership to reap the gains in terms of GDP growth,” he said.
He spoke about the power and innovation of Nigeria’s youth. He said nowhere is the surging power of Africa’s youth more inescapable than in Nigeria, and that this youth demographic is transforming every sphere of life in Nigeria especially with regard to entrepreneurship, sports, arts and entertainment.
“Ours is the second largest film industry in the world; and contemporary Nigerian music has gone global. I would not be surprised if Nigerian stars like Timaya, WizKid, Davido or Tiwa Savage are selling out concert halls in Moscow or St. Petersburg very soon, as they have been doing in major cities around the world,” he said.
Mr Saraki, thereafter, congratulated the Russian people for the successful hosting of the 2018 World Cup tournament, adding that the burst of colour, spectacle and sportsmanship on display – as well as the smooth running of the event – are a reflection of the level of planning, preparation and capacity on it’s part as host nation.
He urged everyone to look out for the Super Eagles in the tournament and subsequent matches.
“If anything, we have already won the battle of the football jerseys; the Super Eagles kit is an instant classic, a coveted collector’s item, universally acclaimed as the best national kit in Russia 2018.
“Naturally, the entire Nigerian nation is behind our team, optimistic for a sterling performance in the rest of the tournament and confident that our boys will now produce the sleek moves to match the sleek looks,” he said.