President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in Russia for a three-day inaugural Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum, which will focus on peace, security, and development.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed in a statement that the President’s plane touched the tarmac of the Sochi International Airport at 11.25pm on Monday.
He added that President Buhari was received by the Mayor of the City of Sochi, Anatoliy Nikolayevich Pakhomov, and other state officials.
The Economic Forum and Summit will hold on Wednesday and Thursday with four plenary sessions that will be attended by over 30 African Heads of State and governments.
According to Shehu, these leaders have confirmed participation, including the Chairman of the African Union and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
The summit will be co-chaired by President Vladimir Putin, who will present a keynote address at the opening on Wednesday, and the African Union Chairman.
The President’s spokesman said his principal and the Russian leader would meet at Nigeria and Russian bilateral meeting on Wednesday, while President Buhari would make a statement at the summit on Thursday.
Other participants at the summit that will showcase Russian interest and investment potential in Africa include businessmen, experts, investors, leaders of major sub-regional associations and organisations.
An African Business Forum, which will bring together African and Russian business leaders, will be held during the event to enhance Russian investments in Africa, and promote African business interest in the host country.
About 250 Nigerian business interests will be participating in the forum.
Shehu said, “It is important that this meeting is taking place at this time. All the big economies are picking a stronger interest in Africa.
“We now have US-Africa Summit, India-Africa Summit, China-Africa Summit, and Japan-Africa Summit, so Russia has signified its interest for political, cultural and economic partnership.”
“Nigeria has had an excellent relationship with Russia over the years. We will not forget how the country assisted us in keeping Nigeria as one during the civil war when some of our traditional allies deserted us.
“They have also stood behind us in the fight against terrorism, Boko Haram and ISWA, and Russia has demonstrated its capacity in gas production, a resource which Nigeria has a huge potential of utilising,” he added.
The presidential aide said the summit would look into issues of sustainable energy, mines and steel, infrastructure development in Africa, nuclear energy and trade and investment.
On security, he said the meeting would come up with proposals for a security architecture that would be heavily driven by new technology.
President Buhari was accompanied by Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara, and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
Ministers on the trip include Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Affairs), Adeniyi Adebayo (Trade and Investment), Olamilekan Adegbite (Mines and Steel Development), and Timipre Sylva (Minister of State, Petroleum).