NIGERIA -THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA RELATIONS

          Nigeria has had excellent relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia dating back to pre-independence era. These relations were consolidated during the year through active exchange of visits at various levels. A major highlight of this was the visit of the Deputy Foreign Minister, Prince Abdul-Aziz Ibn Abdullah, who was received in audience by the Vice President.

          In the same vein, President Goodluck Jonathan received in the State House, a Saudi top businessman, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, who had signified his intention to invest heavily in the Nigerian economy. In the course of discussions with President Jonathan, Prince Alwaleed affirmed that “any investor in Africa who does not come to Nigeria has not started and has a long way to go”. These important visits came on the heels of an Official Visit to Saudi Arabia by the Nigerian Vice President in April, 2012. The two countries have also strengthened collaboration and exchanged views at various international for a in which they shared membership.

          In solidarity with the royal family, the people and government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a high powered delegation led by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alhaji Mohammed Abubaka III, attended the funeral of the revered Late Saudi Crown Prince, Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Alsaud, who died on 16 June, 2011. Other members of the four-man delegation included the Minister of Defence Alhaji Haliru Bello Mohammed, the HMOS II, Dr. Nurudeen Muhammed and Prof. Daoud Naibi.

          The annual Hajj operation continued to be a dominant feature in Nigeria-Saudi relations. Even though responsibilities for Hajj matters now rest with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, the overall oversight function devolves on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This has to be so because of the consular component of the operations and the political context within which the Hajj have had to be conducted. Over 170,000 Nigerians successfully took part in the Hajj operations of August 2011, and about half of that number in the Lesser Hajj of same month.

          A major challenge to intending pilgrims remained the quotas ceiling on the number of visas that the Saudi Missions in Nigeria could issue for the two operations, not to mention the huge logistical challenges of managing the large size of Nigerian in a foreign land.

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