Worried by the conditions of over 10,000 Nigerians held in various detentions in Saudi Arabia, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has appealed to the government of foremost Arab country to assist in bringing them back home.
This is even as he also appealed to Saudi Arabia to use its influence as a major player in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC to increase Nigeria’s crude oil production quota from the present 1.5million barrels per day.
Lawan made the appeals yesterday when the Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Nigeria, Faisal Eebraheem Alghamdi, paid him a visit to his office at the National Assembly, Abuja.
The Senate President, while underscoring the role of the Ninth Assembly in ensuring compliance to bilateral and multi-lateral agreements entered into by the Nigerian government, disclosed that ongoing efforts were underway to evacuate citizens held back in Saudi Arabia.
“This legislative arm of government is always conscious of ensuring that our government plays its role in bilateral and multilateral dispositions that our government has decided to go into.
“Saudi Arabia and Nigeria established a very solid relationship for a long time, and the relationship has been growing every year.
“I want to assure you that this arm of government will work with you as the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia.
“We are aware that some of our pilgrims in the past had issues in Saudi Arabia, thousands of them are in detention and, therefore, as a country we have taken conscious decisions to ensure that we continue to educate and enlighten our citizens, especially those going to Saudi Arabia for Ummrah of Hajj, that when they get there, they perform their religious rites and return to Nigeria.
“This is to minimize and possibly avoid people going there and not coming back. I want to assure you that we will continue to support the National Hajj Commission in educating our pilgrims and, of course, the State Welfare Boards across the country.
“Our country is also making a lot of efforts to ensure we evacuate our citizens who are now in Saudi Arabia and who we believe should be back home.
“I want to use this medium to seek the support of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the government to work with us in this respect to get our citizens back.
“Presently, we have over ten thousand Nigerians who are not registered and who are held in detention. It is our desire to ensure that we get these people out of the country and bring them back home.
“I want to assure you that the relationship between these two great countries – Saudi Arabia and Nigeria – can only go higher and better.”
On the increase of Nigeria’s crude oil production quota, the Senate President noted that doing so would enable Nigeria meet with the country’s infrastructural demands needed to match its growing population.
Speaking earlier, the Saudi Arabia envoy, said the purpose of the visit was to build on this existing relationship between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, saying, “we need to develop our relationships and this is the goal when I came here.”
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