Does Russia really have anything to offer Nigeria?

Russo-Nigerian relations date back to the 25th of November 1960, when Nigeria first established diplomatic relations with the defunct Soviet Union.

Alongside Great Britain, the Soviets were Nigeria’s major munitions supplier during the civil war against the Biafran separatists. It was the hottest period of the cold war. Moscow always acted fast in trying to hedge out on American imperialism everywhere possible.

At the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970 till 1990, the subsidencing of the hammer and sickle; the Soviets showed little or zero interest in Africa’s most populous nation.

Following the formation of the Russian federation in 1991, there was a re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Nigeria, which culminated in official state visits by Nigeria’s president Olusegun Obasanjo to Moscow in 2001 and Russia’s president Dimitry Medvedev to Abuja in 2009.

Besides the ratification of the Declaration on the principles of friendly relations and partnership in 2009, which quite frankly has not produced any significant outcome; Russo-Nigerian relations have been nothing but inconsequential over the years.

The just concluded Russia-Africa summit
A replica of the United States–Africa Leaders Summit led by Barack Obama in 2014; the first Russia-Africa summit hosted by Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Abdelfattah Alsisi focused on discussions on peace, security and development of the parties involved.

It is a known fact that most fora and summits by political leaders are more talk than action, even though it might be too early to casts doubt at this juncture. Regardless, I am of the opinion that the prestige that Russia has acquired by “summoning” 43 heads of state/goverment with the remaining 11 ably represented; relays a powerful message that the pendulum of global leadership might just be swinging towards Moscow.


The goal of the just concluded Russia-Africa forum is to foster peace, security and development. First, let’s consider peace and security. Russians boast of some of the finest military hard ware. For decades, the Russian economy has thrived “partly” on the sale of weapons to both state and non state actors whether in times of war or for just preparedness. It is not wrong to then imply, that for an arms dealer, peace is bad for business. Is Moscow truly all about lasting peace and security in Africa or simply speaking with tongue in cheek? We will find out soon enough.

Russia is home to roughly 30% of the world’s natural resources. Like Nigeria, it relies on energy revenues to spur economic growth. Roughly 70% of Russia’s total exports and about 50% of its federal budget come from oil and gas proceeds. Considering the similarities; in terms of trade, the Russians only need a market for their military hardware. Can we buy quality hardware elsewhere? Yes we can! From the Americans, the Chinese, even the Frenchs or definitely somewhere else!

Development was highlighted as a part of the Russia-Africa forum’s major objective. Hysterically, Russia is not even a developed country! Furthermore, it is difficult to identify what Nigeria desperately needs from Russia. Let us assume such need even exists, you can rest assured it can be sourced else where.

By Cephas Kadiri

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