Nigerian president’s trip to Saudi Arabia has birthed a bilateral ties between the two countries. The State House released a statement on Thursday highlighting the details of the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Below is the full statement.
“President Buhari, Thursday in Riyadh, accepted an invitation from the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for the establishment of Nigeria- Saudi Council aimed at promoting investments and enhancing relations between both countries.
The decision was the highpoint of a bilateral meeting between the Nigerian leader and the Crown Prince which took place on the margins of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference.
The meeting was initially scheduled to hold in the office of the Crown Prince but out of courtesy and respect for the Nigerian leader, Prince Salman insisted that he would meet with President Buhari in his hotel room at The Ritz Carlton, Riyadh.
The Council will be made up of government officials and business leaders from both countries and the areas of focus are: economic growth and development, investments in oil and non-oil sectors, and security cooperation.
President Buhari and the Crown Prince agreed that the first assignment for the Council is to establish a legal and operational framework that will facilitate investments beneficial to both countries.
The Council will be established in the next two months while meetings will be held twice every year.
To ensure that relations between both countries remain active, it was also agreed that leaders of both countries, at the highest level, will meet at least once every year to review the progress of the joint council and ensure closer collaboration on issues of mutual interest.
President Buhari thanked the Crown Prince for the Kingdom’s interest in investing in Nigeria and the initiative to establish the Council which would form the foundation for a stronger Nigeria-Saudi relationship.
“Nigeria has a large population mainly made up of dynamic, young people & partnerships of this type will help them to be productive & prosperous,” the President said;assuring his government will continue to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country.
Speaking on regional and international issues, President Buhari shared the view of the Crown Prince that with the collapse of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the next frontier for terrorism is the Sahel region.
President Buhari commended the concern by the Saudi authorities to keep the issue of the security situation in Sahel region on the front burner.
Earlier, the Saudi Crown Prince had noted that the security challenges in the Sahel should be seen as a global issue. “Saudi Arabia is prepared to participate in the engagement and sensitisation of the whole world to the problems in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
On bilateral issues, the Crown Prince reiterated the preparedness of the Kingdom to support Nigeria’s development agenda, noting that the country had the potential to be among the top 20 economies in the world.
“Saudi Arabia is eager to support Nigeria and we want to be a part of Nigeria’s journey to be among the top 20 economies in the world,” he said.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman told President Buhari the Saudis have invested 40 billion U.S. dollars in India, 10 billion dollars in Pakistan and 20 billion dollars in Indonesia and are willing to do the same in Nigeria given the favourable business environment.
President Buhari re-emphasized that enabling a conducive business environment will remain a priority for his administration.”
Before the meeting with Saudi Prince, president Buhari has met with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Aramco and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in the capital, Riyadh, where he discussed areas of cooperation.
It happened that the area of cooperation with Aramco is Nigeria’s refineries which have fallen out of shape for years. However, Buhari directed officers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to collaborate with the Saudis to see that modalities are in place to revive the refineries.
It could be recalled that in September, the GMD of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, promised that the NNPC is working to make sure that the refineries function at full operation by 2020. And there is also a supposed partnership with Aliko Dangote and the Federal Government of Nigeria for the rehabilitation of the refineries.
The latest move by the president to involve Aramco is possibly making sure the refineries are fixed by all means possible.