NEW DELHI: Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo Monday began a five-day visit to India, looking to explore opportunities to expand the annual bilateral trade that hovers at about $13 billion at present.
Obasanjo is accompanied by a nine-member delegation of prominent Nigerian businessmen.
During his stay in India, Obasanjo will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"One of the main aims of Obasanjo's visit is to encourage greater bilateral economic synergy," said a statement issued by the Indian external affairs ministry here.
He has served as Nigeria's president twice during 1976-79 and 1999-2007. He is currently the chairman of the board of trustees of Nigeria's ruling Peoples' Democratic Party.
As a senior African statesman, he has often been called upon to play critical roles in crisis situations in the continent and beyond.
Recently, he was in Senegal to observe presidential elections following his appointment by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.
In 1997, India awarded the 'Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development' to Obasanjo.
He was the chief guest at India's Republic Day celebrations in 2000.
"This visit is yet another affirmation of the close and substantive ties between India and Nigeria," the release said.
Bilateral trade between the two countries touched $13 billion in 2010-11 and is expected to cross $19 billion in this financial year.
Over 100 Indian companies have a presence in Nigeria, home to around 35,000 Indians. Nearly 33,000 Nigerians visited India in 2011, with business and medical tourism as the main drivers.