Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country on Thursday afternoon from his three-day trip to Abidjan, the capital of CÃ´te dâ€™Ivoire, where he participated in the fifth EU-AU Summit. The president will again leave the country today for Alqaba, the Jordanian capital, to participate in a two-day security summit on West Africa.
A senior presidential source who confided in THISDAY yesterday said Jordanian King, Abdullah II, is hosting the West African security summit because of his concern for security in West African sub-region.
According to him, the summit will hold tomorrow and Sunday, December 2 and 3. He added that though the president is scheduled to leave Abuja for Jordan today, he might as well opt to leave tomorrow morning and return to the country on Monday.
The Jordanian kingâ€™s decision to host a security summit for Africa had earlier been disclosed in New York on September 20 this year, when Abdulah donated military hardware to Nigeria with additional pledge to further supply helicopters to the country to enhance its fight against terrorism during the 72nd session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The king had handed the donation to the president at the event.
A statement issued by the presidentâ€™s chief spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in New York at the time, said Buhari thanked Abdullah for the gifts, describing the donation of 200 armoured fighting vehicles to Nigeria as a reflection of Jordan kingdomâ€™s â€œtrue concern for Nigeriaâ€™s security situation and genuine goodwill towards a friendly nation.â€
Adesina added that Buhari reassured the Jordan king of Nigeriaâ€™s commitment towards the â€œproposed Aqaba Process with countries in the region as well as Nigeriaâ€™s willingness to play a leading role in bringing together countries in the West African sub-region into this collective security arrangement.â€
He also said the president pledged Nigeriaâ€™s continued desire for enhanced bilateral ties with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, adding that the king told Buhari that his National Security Adviser would soon be working out the final details of the Aqaba Process with his Nigerian counterpart.
According to him, the Jordanian king had earlier informed the Nigerian president that his kingdom would open an embassy in Abuja in the next few months, and expressed appreciation to the Nigerian government for its support.
â€œIt would be recalled that soon after President Buhari took office in 2015, the Jordanian King had offered a hand of friendship, cooperation and support for Nigeria in its fight against terrorism and insurgency. This resulted in the NSA undertaking two visits to Jordan to follow up on issues previously discussed with the king, and the donation of military hardware and pledge of further support.
â€œThese gestures are aimed at enhancing Nigeriaâ€™s operational capabilities in the fight against terror both within the country and the Lake Chad Basin which affects neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger where the Multinational Joint Task Force is engaging the Boko Haram terrorists.
â€œThe National Security Adviserâ€™s second trip to Jordan on the invitation of the king in January 2016 to attend the 3rd Aqaba Process, also resulted in a renewed commitment between the two countries to consider multilateral action in confronting the menace of terrorism by replicating the Aqaba arrangement which the Kingdom of Jordan has with East African countries battling protracted terrorist menace.
â€œNigeria has agreed to work with countries in the region on a similar arrangement with Jordan. It is anticipated that the first Aqaba Process for Nigeria and sister countries within the sub-region with Jordan will be held in late November or early December 2017,â€ the statement added.