President Muhammadu 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 high point 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
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 and partnerships of this type will help them to be productive and
prosperous,” the President said, assuring that his government will
continue to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in
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.
The Nigerian leader commended the concern by the Saudi authorities to
keep the issue of the security situation in Sahel region on the front
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
Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the President 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.
The Nigerian President re-emphasized that enabling a conducive business
environment will remain a priority for his administration.