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Russia Shall Become Africa's 'First Line' of Friendship, Youth Leader Says

© Mikhail MetzelRussian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari shake hands during their meeting on the sideline of Russia-Africa summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari shake hands during their meeting on the sideline of Russia-Africa summit - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 17.05.2023
Youth activist and chair of the Board for the Development and Cooperation for Africa Initiative, David Okpatuma, participated in numerous conferences and forums held in Russia. He told Sputnik his views on Russian-Nigerian, as well as Russian-African, relations.
Russia will become Africa's "first line" ally because it can assist the country in sustainable development and has never been involved in the exploitation of Nigerians, David Okpatuma, Nigeria's youth activist and entrepreneur, told Sputnik.

"One country that, of course, historically didn't take part in the colonial expeditions was Russia. So, if we now as a people want to collaborate effectively, it's only common sense for us to go [to] or prioritize first an institution or a people or a country that didn't take part in our exploitation at first, but yet still has all we have and has developed it enough for us to learn from them," Okpatuma said. "They [Russians] will become our first line of contact or friendships."

According to the youth leader, Russia can contribute to Africa's economic growth by encouraging, supporting and collaborating.
"If you want to be sustainable, if you want to develop yourself, if you want to grow in strength, whatever you want to do, the idea is for you to find someone that has done or has been successful in that which you want to do, and go to them, ask questions, seek help, seek collaboration and support if need be," Okpatuma explained.
Okpatuma argued that whatever Nigeria wants to develop, "basically, Russia has already developed", pointing to Moscow's successes in sustainability. In answering the question of what Russia could teach African countries, he singled out natural resources, agriculture, and nuclear power spheres.
"We have seen Russia as a country that has been able to develop its resources and its technologies to a place of self-sustainability. And if there's anything Africa needs to also imbibe is the nature, or is the habit of sustainability. Not just sustainability, but we need to also learn how to develop our resources and not just rely on external development trends for us to consume what we are naturally blessed with," the youth leader said.
Regarding the nuclear power area, Okpatuma said that given Russia's progress in this field, it is high time for Africa to learn from Russia's experience with nuclear power to ensure more sustainable electricity generation in Africa, which will give an impetus to the development of industry and even more innovation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa Naledi Pandor during a joint press conference following a meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 03.05.2023
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"Since Russia is also big on agriculture, which also Africa is, I'm sure we can share notes or in regards to how to develop sustainable agriculture across Africa, also, with their technologies," Okpatuma said, adding that it would make it even easier for us to contribute to the global quota for food production.
The key factor of interaction between Russia and Africa, according to the entrepreneur, should be cooperation between the societies and cultural exchange. He pointed to the historical and relevant nature of bilateral relations, in areas such as art and literature.

"We have a lot of cultural pride evolve from the times of Hannibal, the great grandfather of Alexander Pushkin. I mean, he was African. […] And even today, when it comes to the way we revere the elderly, the way we hold cultural pride at apogee, we see Russia and Africa have very, very similar historical pride, historical heritage," Okpatuma noted.

The youth leader added that it is necessary to create narratives that are able to "savor for the true history" shared expriences between Russia and Africa.
However, he said, since Africa is populated by "a different kind of media," up to that point Russia's image in Africa was "not the greatest", which dictates the need for a joint media strategy.

"Russia and Africa need to also sit down and come up with probably [a] better and newer media strategy to ensure that we are able to carry out or be able to translate through pictures or through realities of what is attainable and what it's about, because we cannot have Russia and Africa share so much history that most Africans know little or nothing about," the youth activist remarked.

In March, Russia hailed the successful presidential election in Nigeria and reaffirmed its readiness to forge ties of traditional friendship and cooperation between the two countries. The new-elected President Bola Tinubu will be sworn-in and take office on May 29.
Last month, the Russian MFA stated that Russia was preparing two shipments of fertilizers to be delivered free of charge to Kenya and Nigeria.
The Nigerian's statements precede the planned Russia-Africa summit to be held in Russia's cultural capital, St. Petersburg in July.
The Russia-Africa Summit has been an important platform for promoting Russian interests on the continent, with leaders from 48 of Africa’s 54 countries attending the first summit held in the Russian resort city of Sochi in October 2019.