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Prof. Onwuliri Push Economic Collaboration in Saudi Arabia

By Ejike Arinze - Eastern Arrow News
L-R: Prof. Viola Onwuliri, Engr  Muhammad Bin Abdullah Alshiah
L-R: Prof. Viola Onwuliri, Engr Muhammad Bin Abdullah Alshiah
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Abuja, Nigeria: The Nigeria Foreign Affairs Minister of state 1, Her Excellency, Prof (Mrs) Viola Onwuliri, recently led a Nigerian delegation accompanied by the minister of Trade and Investment, His Excellency Olusegun Aganga, to Saudi Arabia, to reinvigorate economic collaboration between both countries. After exchanging pleasantries and salutations with her chief host, His Excellency, Engr Muhammad Bin Abdullah Alshiah, Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Saudi Kingdom, Prof. Onwuliri said “Your Excellency, I am happy to note that since our two countries established diplomatic relations with each other in 1971, relations between our two countries have remained largely warm and cordial. As members of several international organizations, our two countries have cooperated and collaborated closely at the United Nations (UN), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), G77, the International Energy Forum (IEF) and the Non-Aligned Movement. Regrettably, in spite of the over four decades of formal relationship, very little economic activities, in the form of Investments and Trade, exist between our two countries.”

Prof. Onwuliri proceeded to advocate the replication of the successes both countries have recorded collaborating on global diplomatic space in economic arena. She said “The robust relationship that exist between our two countries at the level of OPEC and indeed, in the annual pilgrimage of our Muslim brothers and sisters to your great country that enjoys the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, needs to be urgently replicated in other fields for the mutual benefits of our peoples. In this era of high technology and globalisation, the restriction of our collaborations to only religious and OPEC matters are clearly insufficient. I am aware of the attempts that were made in the past to ensure that our two countries enter into some concrete agreements to sustain trade, investment, youth and sports, as well as scientific cooperation between our two countries. The latest attempt was in 2003 when an omnibus Bilateral Agreement was signed. Regrettably, the absence of the Joint Commission, a mechanism for effective operationalization, made it impossible to operationalize that agreement.”

Prof. Owuliri emphasized the importance of this bilateral economic initiative to President Goodluck Jonathan's Transformation Agenda, when she said “Our meeting today, in your beautiful city, represents the first practical attempt by our two countries to establish this mechanism (Joint Commission), at the end of which specific sectors can key-in and advance the economic collaborations between our two countries, consistent with the policies of our Governments. Nigeria's Transformation Agenda necessarily requires a re-orientation and focus of Government on all the sectors of our economy to ensure optimal results for our people. We have no doubts in our minds that in this endeavour, there is so much to be gained in our enhanced collaboration in the fields of Oil and Gas, Agriculture, Investments and Trade, Aviation, Water Resources and Health. It is our hope that this first meeting will clearly establish the pattern that these issues as well as others that we may find useful in advancing our joint interests, can be discussed with the hope that in the near future, agreements can be reached on them for signature.”

Prof. Onwuliri, again and again ensured focus was kept on the essence of the collaboration of both countries, which is the people. She said “While we agree that there are no quick-fix solutions in some of these subject areas, we are nonetheless prepared to be pragmatic and look into those areas that mutual benefits can be easily derived in the interest of our peoples.”

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Ejike Arinze
Eastern Arrow News

L-R: Prof. Viola Onwuliri, Engr Muhammad Bin Abdullah Alshiah

L-R: Prof. Viola Onwuliri, Engr Muhammad Bin Abdullah Alshiah and Mr. Olusegun Aganga