President of Nigeria Umaru Yar’Adua: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,
Today we have an honoured and esteemed visitor, in the person of Mr Dmitry Medvedev, the President of the Russian Federation. This is the first time we have the honour and privilege of hosting such an important visitor, and for Nigeria, today is a day that all Nigerians feel excited about this visit.
We held talks privately and officially, and discussed issues of cooperation between Nigeria and the Russian Federation. We discussed issues that affect the African continent and global issues, and we have signed six agreements which will foster and take our relationship into new strategic areas and advance our cooperation – bilateral and multilateral cooperation – and make us great partners in our cooperation and mutual relationship. So, I’ll hand you over to my honoured guest to address you, and then you can ask a few questions, if you so wish.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank the President of Nigeria, Mr Yar’Adua, for his hospitality and warm welcome. It is our great pleasure to have this opportunity to meet with our Nigerian friends and discuss our prospects for cooperation.
This is the first visit by the President of Russia to Nigeria, and I hope that as a result of today’s joint work and the signing of a package of documents, the relations between our countries will reach a new level, signifying greater cooperation and a true partnership in the economic and humanitarian spheres. We consider Nigeria to be a key partner, and we would like to develop our business contacts.
In recent years, we have strengthened our trade and economic relations; they have become quite substantial. Nonetheless, in our talks today which started in a restricted format and then included our delegations, we reached the conclusion that our cooperation has not yet achieved its full potential. We believe that there are several serious projects that can allow us to improve cooperation in the energy sector, first and foremost in trade and exports, as well as in building new oil and gas facilities.
We discussed the development of projects in electrical energy and spoke about nuclear energy. This was more than just a discussion. Most importantly, our meeting today ended with us signing a number of documents regarding practical areas for cooperation. This guarantees that our countries’ business relations will strengthen as a result of this visit.
We spoke about fostering cooperation in security, and as a result, we signed several documents on sentenced prisoner exchange programmes as well as a number of other documents. I feel that this, too, is a very important area of legal cooperation.
We discussed promoting cooperation in training programmes for Nigerian personnel. Our successful experience in this area goes back to the USSR, and currently, Nigerian specialists are studying in our country. I believe that this is area of cooperation that should be expanded in order to strengthen our friendship and our ties through a variety of practical, mutually beneficial projects.
Our nations ardently support the creation of a modern international security system. We have similar positions on today’s key questions of how to provide this security and on forming new security architecture.
Mr President and I also spoke about economic issues and maintaining peace, as well as peace-building overall. This, too, is a very important topic, especially on the African continent.
It is also important to amplify cooperation in creating systems of global energy security. Our countries have taken a number of important steps in this direction. Currently, our cooperation is quite active in oil trade and we cooperate within the frameworks of corresponding international organisations addressing these issues.
Together, we participated in establishing Gas Exporting Countries Forum, and we plan to further advance our cooperation within its framework, especially since we have the potential to become very serious partners specifically in the energy sector, in gas production, so of course our contacts will be continued.
I would like to once again thank the President of Nigeria for his warm welcome, for the concrete discussion that we just had, and for the decisions that were made. Some of them, in my view, simply could not have come to be without direct participation by the President of Nigeria. I would like for these kinds of contacts to continue.
I have invited the President of Nigeria to visit the Russian Federation.
In conclusion, I would like to wish the friendly people of Nigeria success and prosperity.
Question: Russia and Nigeria are among the ten biggest oil producers. Today, Gazprom signed documents on a joint venture. You also spoke about the prospects for projects of this kind.
How big an investment is Russia able to make in this sphere in Nigeria? In your opinion, what are the prospects for building cooperation in the oil and gas sector between the two countries?
And a question for the President of Nigeria: how do you feel about Russian investment in this sector?
Dmitry Medvedev: In talking about prospects, I think that after today’s visit, after signing the corresponding documents, these prospects are very good. If we work together, and if we implement the ideas laid out in these documents, including ones to launch a joint venture, then Russian investments into Nigeria’s energy sector and our bilateral cooperation will amount to billions of US dollars, because we are talking about very large-scale projects.
You justly noted that Russia and Nigeria are leading nations in oil and gas production, and in this regard, we certainly need to cooperate. Nigeria’s economy is developing and requires new systems, new refinery capacity, and new pipeline networks, and Russia is ready to offer relevant help and support to our Nigerian partners. Today, I believe we laid foundation for our joint work in the years to come, so we have a very optimistic outlook on these prospects.
Umaru Yar’Adua: The prospect of investment in this sector is excellent. In fact, I have always said that Nigeria is more a gas nation than an oil nation, and we have proven results of about 183 trillion cubic feet of gas which, really, is at the prime state of now being developed. It’s like developing a completely new area, and I think today this signing of the memorandum for a joint venture between the NNPC [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation] and Gazprom provides a great opportunity for exploitation of this vast resource we have, and we have projects which are already designed. We have the National Gas Master Plan, we have the West African gas pipeline plan which has started in Ghana; it is our intention, through this joint venture, to take it right through, across the West African region. The Sahara gas pipeline will pump gas through the Sahara, through central and north Africa, to Europe. The investment climate in Nigeria in this sector and other sectors are such that there are new laws that have been put in place to ensure one of the highest returns on investment in the world; various concessions that make investment feasible and profitable.
Question: A Question for the President of Russia. Much has been said about the need to grant countries in Africa and many other developing nations permanent membership in the UN Security Council. There has also been talk of making Nigeria a permanent member of the Security Council. Mr President, what is Russia willing to do in order to help reform the United Nations and to ensure that Nigeria has the chance to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council?
And a question for the President of Nigeria. You spoke yesterday about the possibility of declaring amnesty for militants in the Niger Delta, but one of the militants was arrested yesterday. What are you planning to do, given that the situation in the Niger Delta is one of the destabilising factors in the development of the Nigerian economy? Have you made any statements to the President of Russia regarding the security of investments into the Nigerian economy that the Russian side plans to make?
Dmitry Medvedev: I have several things to say in answer to your question on reforming the Security Council. First of all, it is time for the Security Council to be reformed. Second, it is entirely clear that African countries should be represented in the Security Council. Third, Security Council reforms should be based on the rules established within the United Nations and carried out in accordance with the UN Charter.
Thus, we must think about finding a solution that will be accepted by all nations, including those that hold veto power. It must be a consensus-based solution.
And finally, we are ready to amicably help African nations and our key partner, Nigeria, to promote their representatives to the Security Council. We absolutely must continue consulting on this issue. We will work with our Nigerian friends, including within the framework of the UN Security Council, taking into account the Russian Federation’s authority within the organisation.
Umaru Yar’Adua: Tomorrow I’ll proclaim amnesty for all militants and the times and conditions of the amnesty will be made public tomorrow after my consultation with the counsellors. Now, there are some isolated incidents – I think it’s better to put the record straight. I had the security services inform me they did not arrest or detain Asari-Dokubo. They invited him for a debriefing over his trip. After their chat and the debriefing – if you check, I think they spent a few hours with the people – there was no arrest, there was no detention. This is normal, routine procedure for our security agencies. So it’s not an arrest by the security services, or detention. He has not been arrested, he has not been detained. He has been invited routinely for debriefing and that does not constitute an arrest or a detention.
I have raised this issue with the President of the Russian Federation about the efforts we are making to ensure peace and normalcy in the Niger Delta states, in the oil-producing areas of this country. I have briefed him on the measures – the amnesty is one of the measures. We have a three-level strategy, a mechanism and apparatus for ensuring the return of peace and normalcy in the area, and I am hopeful and confident that by the end of this year, we will have a secure and stable situation in the oil-producing areas. All of these three measures working together will produce the desired results. Thank you.