President Muhammadu Buhari has tactically rejected the invitation by Saudi Arabia to join the coalition of Islamic States against terror.
Buhari, who is on a week-long visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar told his host and ruler of Saudi Arabia, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, that rather than joining, Nigeria would support the coalition.
A statement by the president’s spokesman Mr. Garba Shehu said Buhari turned down the invitation tuesday at a bilateral meeting between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.
It added that the two leaders engaged in extensive discussions on regional and global issues, and agreed that terrorism posed a common threat to their states and would require close cooperation to prevail over the threat.
Buhari, who was making his first pronouncement on the invitation to join the coalition of Islamic states against terror spearheaded by the Saudis, congratulated King Salman on its formation, adding however that rather than joining the coalition, Nigeria would support it.
“Even if we are not a part of it, we support you. I must thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the recent creation of a coalition to address the menace of international terrorism.
“Nigeria will support your efforts in keeping peace and stopping the spread of terror in your region. This is in consonance with our own commitment and ongoing efforts in seeking to stamp out Boko Haram terrorists from the West African sub-region and Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC),” the president said.
Speaking on global terror, Buhari said that “international terrorism made a statement by attacking one of the advanced countries by carrying out an attack on Paris in which 130 were killed. Now we have to come together to find a common solution to the problem of terrorism”.
He thanked the Saudi government for its continuing support to Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.
Turning to the menace that Libya has turned into, Buhari regretted that the late Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Ghaddafi, recruited, trained and armed citizens of many states in the Sahel region.
“With his fall, these mercenaries have returned to their countries, doing nothing but to shoot and kill,” he said.
He cited Burkina Faso and Mali as the main victims but expressed satisfaction that the countries neighbouring the Lake Chad region had tightened their ranks to finish off the Boko Haram threat.
“Luckily, we have cultivated our neighbours. We are now working together against Boko Haram, otherwise the problem would have become worse,” he told his host.
He and King Salman expressed hope that the Libyan factions would soon see reason to reunite and restore fully their own country so as to save the world from further terrorism spin-offs from that country.
The leaders also focused on trade between their states and agreed to give fresh impetus to the joint commission previously established in order to boost commercial and other activities to unify their peoples.
In his remarks, King Salman commended the progress made by Nigeria in combating terrorism and promised to give further support and assistance.
He welcomed the support of the Nigerian government for the new ant-terrorism coalition and implored the president to consider its full membership.
King Salman pledged his full support and cooperation to Nigeria under its present leadership and directed all agencies of his government to follow up on the discussions.
“I now instruct my team to go and sit down with your relevant agencies to push forward cooperation between our states,” the king said.
Both leaders also gave their commitment to a “stable oil market” and a “rebound of oil prices”, accepting that their two economies were tied to oil and all would not be well with both countries when the world oil market is unstable.
The statement from both rulers came on the heels of a pact reached last week by the world’s two biggest oil producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia, to freeze oil output at January levels in order to shore up prices.
But hopes of a price recovery have been somewhat thwarted by a supply glut and Iran’s refusal to cap output.
Iran is eager to ramp up oil production and exports quickly following the lifting of international sanctions after it agreed to stop its nuclear programme.
“They (Buhari and King Salman) committed themselves to doing all that is possible to stabilise the market and work towards an oil price recovery,” said the statement from the president’s spokesman.