President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Riyadh, accepted an invitation from the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for the establishment of Nigeria – Saudi Council.
The council, according to a statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, is aimed at promoting investments and enhancing relations between both countries.
The statement also said the crown prince spoke on bilateral issues, reiterating the preparedness of Saudi 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.
Shehu said the decision to establish the Nigeria -Saudi Council was the highpoint of a bilateral meeting between the Nigerian leader and the crown prince, held 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 statement said.
It also said the council would be established in the next two months while meetings would be held twice every year.
According to the statement, relations between both countries remain active with leaders of both countries agreeing at the highest level to meet at least once every year to review the progress of the joint council and ensure closer collaboration on issues of mutual interest.
It also said Buhari thanked the crown prince for Saudi’s willingness to invest in Nigeria as well as the initiative to establish the council which he said 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 was quoted as saying, assuring that his government would continue to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country.
Shehu also said Buhari spoke on regional and international issues, sharing 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.
He also said the Nigerian leader commended the concern by the Saudi authorities to keep the issue of the security situation in Sahel region on the front burner.
According to him, earlier, the crown prince noted that 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,’’ Salman was quoted.
He added that Salman told the president that Saudis had invested $40 billion in India, $10 billion in Pakistan and $20 billion in Indonesia and are also willing to replicate same in Nigeria given the favourable business environment.
The statement said the Nigerian president emphasied that an enabling business environment would remain a priority for his administration.