President Muhammadu Buhari will on Monday (today) embark on yet another round of foreign trips that will take him to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
This time, Buhari, who returned to Nigeria on Saturday from Egypt where he participated in the Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Forum, will be away for about one week.
According to the President’s itinerary released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, on Sunday, Buhari will first fly to Riyadyh for talks with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and senior officials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The talks will hold on Tuesday.
Adesina disclosed further that ongoing efforts by Nigeria and other members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries to achieve greater stability in the price of crude oil exports are expected to be on the agenda of discussions between Buhari and the Saudi monarch.
The President will be accompanied by a high-powered Federal Government delegation, including the Minister of State (Petroleum) and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.
Adesina said that crude oil prices and market stability would also be on the front-burner when Buhari holds talks on Sunday with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The statement added, “The President is also scheduled to meet with leading Saudi and Qatari businessmen in Riyadh and Doha, and invite them to support his administration’s efforts to revamp the Nigerian economy by taking advantage of the great investment opportunities currently available in Nigeria’s mining, agriculture, power supply, infrastructure, transportation, communications and other sectors.
“President Buhari’s other engagements in Saudi Arabia include meetings with heads of international financial organisations and multilateral associations.
“Before going on to Doha, the President will also visit Medina and Mecca to pray for greater peace, prosperity and progress in Nigeria.”
Buhari has been roundly criticised for embarking on foreign trips too often.
He has so far this year visited Benin Republic, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Ethiopia, France, London and Egypt.
It will be recalled that the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, had asked Buhari to stay at home and govern the country, instead of junketing from one country to the other.
Fayose had said that the President’s incessant foreign trips were already bleeding the economy, with about $1m spent per trip.
But Buhari said he did not know how Fayose arrived at the figure he gave.
While answering questions from some Nigerian journalists in London shortly before he commenced a six-day vacation, the President said contrary to the claims by critics of his incessant foreign trips, none of the trips he had made so far could be said to be frivolous.
He said there were always political and economic justifications for any trip he made.
He added that those who were not on the same page with him on the matter were free to disagree and say whatever they like while his government would continue to give them appropriate response.
Buhari said, “Every of my trip can be politically – or economically-assessed. I recall that the first trip I had was to go to Chad and Niger. The trip was mainly because of Nigeria’s security.
“We campaigned based on three issues – security, economy (employment) and corruption. The G-7 invited me to Germany. After that, I went to Cameroon. I then went to the United Nations General Assembly.
“I have not made any frivolous journey. I understand that the Governor of Ekiti State (Fayose) said that every trip I make costs Nigeria at least $1m. I do not know how he worked that out but every trip that I have made, there must be economic and political reasons that justified them.
“Those who do not see it the way the government sees it have the right not to agree and say whatever they like. But we will try and give them the appropriate reply.”