By Obafemi Oredein

Special for Dow Jones Newswires


IBADAN, Nigeria - Russia and Nigeria on Wednesday agreed to cooperate on wide-ranging economic and military issues including oil and gas, refineries, railway and revival of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill.

The agreement was reached at a bilateral meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on the sidelines of the two-day Russia-Africa Summit in the southern Russian city of Sochi that ends on Thursday.

Dozens of African heads of state are attending the summit during which Russia hopes to bolster its economic and military influence in Africa, which has enormous oil and gas deposits, several strategic minerals and agricultural raw materials.

"Nigeria and Russia will work together to improve efficiency of Nigeria`s oil sector in a way that will see to rehabilitation of epileptic refineries (in Nigeria) through establishment of framework for joint ventures between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. and Russia-based leading oil company-Lukoil," according to a statement from Mr. Buhari's office, citing the agreement of both leaders on several issues.

The NNPC and Lukoil will prospect for offshore oil while both countries also agreed to revive the venture between the NNPC and Russia`s gas giant, Gazprom to develop Nigeria`s enormous gas potential and infrastructure.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Buhari discussed the advancement of the on-going nuclear power plant project in Nigeria.

"The next step in the implementation of the project, according to Mr. Putin should be the commencement of construction of a power plant," the statement said.

Mr. Putin agreed to a request by his Nigerian counterpart that Russia should help complete and commission the moribund giant Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill in northern Nigeria.

The multibillion-dollar steel mill, the largest in Nigeria, begun in 1979 by the former Soviet Union under an agreement with Nigeria, hasn't produced steel. The mill, if completed, will enable Nigeria to produce flat sheets for automobile manufacturing, industrial machines and spare parts.

The Russian government agreed to support the development of Nigeria`s rail infrastructure by constructing 1,400 kilometers track from Lagos, the Nigerian commercial capital, to the city of Calabar in Cross River state, the country`s second-largest cocoa producer, in the southeast region.

Mr. Buhari, on his part agreed to revive the Nigeria-Russia Military Technical Agreement that had lapsed.

The agreement will make it possible for the procurement of military hardware, the training of military personnel and modernization of the armed forces by the Russians.

Mr. Buhari also sought the help of Russia in wheat production.

At the summit, Mr. Putin called for trade with African countries to double over the next four to five years and said Moscow had written off African debts of more than $20 billion, Reuters reported.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 23, 2019 19:36 ET (23:36 GMT)

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