By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
President, Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Obiora Okonkwo has expressed the readiness of the Russian Federation to assist the Federal Government in revamping the near-moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company, saying the onus was on Nigeria to take the first step.
Dr Okonkwo disclosed this Monday in Abuja at a news conference to announce the inauguration of the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He said; “Russia has made itself available to the Nigerian government that should they decide to bring back the original equipment manufacturer, they are ready to assist.
“Revamping Ajaokuta has a lot more to do with Nigeria and not Russia. It is more of our policy somersault and a whole lot of conflicting international interests
“Nigeria’s Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is in talks with the
Russian Ministry of Trade and Investments and they are willing to help Nigeria in that regard”.
Okonkwo recalled that an Russian-African summit had taken place in Sochi, Russia in 2019 as part of efforts to open up a new era of Africa-Russia relationship.
One of the deliverables from the summit, he said, is the inauguration of the chamber of commerce.
He said the inauguration of the chamber is the beginning of a new journey that will enable “Nigeria explore business relations with the Russian Federation which, we believe, will promote economic growth, technology transfer, development and also foster better understanding for both countries”.
“As you may be aware, the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NRCCI) was founded by my humble self. It is incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990, and has established beneficial relationships and contacts with numerous economic development organizations in Russia.
“Our aim is to promote commerce, industry, education and training between the two countries.
The principal objectives of NRCCI is to promote commerce, industry, trade and ancillary services; foster, advance and protect commercial, industrial, trade and professional enterprises and, without limitation, other activities and business undertakings of all kinds in the locality and elsewhere.
“Our collaboration with the Russian Federation, as the name of the Chamber suggests, is predicated on our interest in the vast opportunities which the Russian economy presents. We are therefore seeking to establish an industrial development mechanism built on the principle of mutual beneficial relationships with their own business groups. The strategy is to establish and sustain business contacts with the existing numerous economic development organizations in Russia and Nigeria.
The Russian business delegation was led by an Ambassador-at-Large, Oleg Ozerov, an Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Head of the Secretariat of Russia-Africa Partnership Forum.
Other members of the delegation were Mr Andrei Albeshchenko from the Association of Economic Cooperation with African States; Mr Andrei Vladimirov, JSC Rusatom Overseas; Mr. Stepan Belanovich, Uralchem United Chemical Company JSC; Mr Maksim
Poltoradnev, Uralchem United Chemical Company JSC and a host of other Russian business executives.
Mr Ozerov said the delegation had earlier paid a courtesy call on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
He said; “We are impressed with the meeting we had with the vice president of Nigeria. Nigeria has the will to build a better future and we hope that we can build this future together”.