1. The Head of Mission, H. E. Professor Abdullahi Y. Shehu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Russian Federation with concurrent Accreditation to the Republic of Belarus, attended the 25th Session of the famous St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2022 which was held at the ExpoForum Exhibition and Convention Centre, St. Petersburg, Russia from 15th – 18th June 2022. The theme of the 2022 forum was “New Opportunities in the New World”.
2. Participants at the forum include representatives from government agencies and private sector organizations, representatives of international organizations, members of the diplomatic corps, academia, scientists, captains of industries, professional groups, entrepreneurs, artisans, the media and many more. The host president Vladimir Putin and his counterpart from the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev attended the event and addressed the plenary. Others include the President of the Republic of China Xi Jinping and President of Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah El-Sisi who was held as the Honorary guest country at the forum, both also addressed the plenary via videoconferencing.
3. In his welcome remarks, President Vladimir Putin, stated that the Forum, over the years, has become a highly respected and representative international event where Russians and foreign politicians, scientists and entrepreneurs, focus on a wide range of topics concerning the domestic and world economy: from specific areas of industrial cooperation to information, security and environmental protection. A forum where direct and constructive communication results in the signing of mutually beneficial long-term contracts and where exchange of business experiences are shared.
4. Speaking further, the President emphasized that this current decade has become a period the country needs to strengthen its economic sovereignty, through accelerated development of infrastructure and technological base, qualitative upgrades in training of specialists, as well as the establishment of an independent and efficient financial system. He added that the Russian economy will increasingly rely on private initiatives committed to transparency and broad international cooperation.
5. President Putin also stated that it was in the common interests of all Russians to bolster trade and investment, encourage the joint development of technologies, strengthen financial and stock markets, and increase the share of settlements in national currencies. He added that it has become crucial to introduce and develop truly mutually beneficial integration models as was already being done in the Eurasian Economic Union.
6. The forum discussed a wide spectrum of global issues of significance ranging from the current food crises and the role attributed to the west, Russia’s readiness for intervention, its economic blueprint and stabilization process in the face of the sanctions, the souring prices of energy in Europe, as well as the new sphere of international cooperation. Russia – Africa Business Dialogue session also gave attention to the issues of food security as a major concern and urged global leaders to urgently proffer solution in order to avoid further human degradation.
7. As part of the activities on the sideline of the SPIEF Forum, the Institute for Pediatric Research and Clinical Center for infectious diseases of the Russia Federation in St. Petersburg, received the HoM who visited the Center on the invitation of Mrs. Veronika Skvortsova, former Minister of Health of the Russian Federation.
8. The meeting discussed the possibility of cooperation in health care development between Nigeria and Russia. The Institute which deals with research and development of vaccines for treatment and control of infectious diseases in Russia seeks cooperation with the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) as well as collaboration in the training of Nigerian doctors at the Center in that specialty.
9. Speaking on behalf of Mrs. Veronika, Dr. Alexander Uskov, Director of Medical Sciences at the Institute, informed that the Center is funded by the Russian government to undertake research and development of effective drugs for treatment and control of infectious diseases in children and young adult, and training of doctors in the specialty on bilateral cooperation basis from friendly countries. He further stated that besides the training and man power development, the center applies modern technology in diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients (children).
10. On the issue of training of doctor, the Director stated that since 2012, the Centre has trained over one thousand (1000) doctors from 18 countries. Unfortunately, Nigeria was yet to be part of the training program. He advocated the need for Nigeria to be part of the next batch of training which requires 120 doctors to commence the session after summer holidays in September 2022. He added that the Russian government provides scholarship for the post graduate program. He however stated that beneficiary countries are required to register her membership of the institution.
11. In his response, Professor Shehu thanked the Director and his team for the warm reception accorded him and members of his delegation. He also commended the desires of the institute to include Nigerian doctors in the next batch of scholarship students for training. Thereafter, the Ambassador assured his host of Nigeria’s readiness to cooperate with Russia in health care sector and highlighted reciprocal interest of Nigeria to include among others, the the following;
12. Development and supply of new and effective drugs for treatment of infectious diseases such as Lassa fever, Tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, etc, after dully certified by NAFDAC;
- Cooperation between the Centre and NCDC in the exchange of information, ideas and visit between the two agencies for the containment of spread and treatment of infectious diseases;
- Increase in the slot allocation for Nigerian students in medical colleges in Russia; Enrolment of Nigerians into the Military Medical College named after Mr.M. Kirov in St. Petersburg, and
- in the long run, opening of high standard hospitals in Nigeria in order to project Russia just as is done by other countries like India, Turkey, Canada and America.
13. Finally, Professor Shehu requested that detail information on the modalities for membership, component of the scholarship and specific and duration of the courses to be taken be made available to the Embassy for further action. At the end of the meeting, Professor Shehu was conducted round the hospital facilities, the inspection of which was adjudged to be impressive and commendable.
14. The HoM also held a bilateral meeting with Mr. Eugeny Grigorjev, Deputy Governor and Head of Foreign Economic Relations of St. Petersburg during the reception organized by the Russian – Asian Union of Industrialist and Entrepreneurs on the sideline of the forum.
15. It is pertinent to mention that the forum also had delegation from Nigeria who took active part in the youth forum with robust engagement in youth empowerment and entrepreneurship program and women inclusiveness. Among the group was engineer Adeniran Oluwaseun Jeremiah, Director of African Delta Power Limited in his quest to secure a reliable and competent partner for cooperation in power generation in Akwa Ibom State power project (IPP).
16. In all, the Mission, participation at the forum was indeed a success in that it provided a unique opportunity to engagement with potential partners in the health and economic sector. It also opened a new vista of opportunity in which, if maximized will lead to additional slot for training of Nigerian doctors in Russia medical colleges.
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
20th June 2022