Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Ahmed Umar spoke to Ademola Adeyemo on the contributions of Nigerians living in the country to a better Nigeria. Excerpts:
Recently, you organised a prayer session where clerics led Nigerians resident in Saudi Arabia to pray for their country. What informed your action?
We just felt that as patriots and a believer in the Nigerian project, we have to contribute our quota to the peace and progress of our dear country as we have no other country except Nigeria. We have to gather Nigerians living here to offer prayers to the Almighty Allah to intercede in the affairs of our country and let’s have peace before, during and after the general election. We impressed it on our people to see the elections not as a do or die affair but an opportunity to elect our leaders as it is being done in other civilised countries. We see the need to appeal to our people to shun violence during and after the election and accept the results as the will of the almightily Allah and cooperate with whoever wins so that we can continue to live in peace and our country will continue to progress.
We also prayed against the insurgency especially the activities of the Boko Hram sect in Nigeria. We implored Allah to help strengthen the government and our security agents so that Nigeria will be able to overcome the activities of the insurgents in no distant time. Nigeria will not break as we all came together based on the design of almighty Allah. We should work towards unity as Nigerians, despite tribal diversity, we have one thing or the other in common, that binds us together. This shows the configuration of Allah. We should all work towards the unity of this country.
I believe that the government is working hard to keep the country together. We should be vigilant in our communities and also help the security agents with useful information on any suspicious movements. The situation is not peculiar to Nigeria but this is our own country and we should ensure we live in peace.
The situation is foreign to us here. We are God-fearing people who do not want to shed blood unnecessarily. We should all pray for divine intervention in the problem. We believe that with this our action, we are contributing our own efforts to ensure peace in our dear country, Nigeria. We are happy with the turn out and the encouragement that we are getting from home. This is not a one stop thing as we are going to intensify our prayers.
Recently, you also led the representatives of Nigerian communities living in Saudi Arabia on a courtesy visit to the Director General in the Saudi Arabia Foreign Ministry. What is the importance of this visit?
I thank the Saudi government for its cooperation with Nigeria and I praise the Director-General for his humility and sense of duty and assistance to the consulate. That was the first time in history that this kind of meeting will be organised. That shows the love of the government and people of the Kingdom for Nigerians. The meeting has opened a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries and it shows Saudi Arabia’s genuine love for Nigeria.
My appeal to Nigerians is that we should continue to reciprocate this love by been law abiding and we should contribute our quota to the development of the community; we should also respect the law. I also appeal to the Saudi businessmen to take the present conducive atmosphere in Nigeria to invest in the country. We are also happy that cases of crime have dropped drastically among Nigerians living in Saudi Arabia.
The impression among some people is that many Nigerians living in Saudi Arabia are living there illegally and are into crimes. How are you coping with the situation?
No, that is not true. Nigerians here are law abiding and live in peace with their host communities. Although we have some bad eggs but a majority of them are law abiding. If you listen to the Director General, he praised Nigerians and sought for our cooperation and respect for the law, promising that the Saudi government would continue to protect and take care of Nigerians as brothers, friends and relations. He emphasised that the relationship between Nigeria and Islam is great. He also advised Nigerians in Saudi to legalise their stay in order to establish good relationship with the host country. The Director General also said Saudi government is proud of Nigerians and that the meeting was to further cement the good relationship between the two countries and was optimistic that Nigerians will become more prosperous if they are law abiding and live in peace.
Do you think Nigeria is getting a fair deal both politically and economically in its relationship with Saudi Arabia? Nigeria has made positive strides while the Nigeria/Saudi relations have indeed been significantly strengthened. The cordial links between the two countries received an additional boost with the signing and subsequent ratification of the bilateral agreement between the two brotherly countries. While this is indeed a good index of the strength and depth of Nigeria’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, it is also perceived as a safe gateway for a Nigerian-Saudi business forum, where ideas and information would be exchanged with a view to solidifying the already existing cordial relations.
The Nigeria government is also doing its best to sustain the good relationship with the two countries. There has been a total commitment to the nation’s development and general welfare of our citizens through the realisation of the true meaning of democracy. The government has also been able to construct enabling environment that promotes respect and boundless opportunities for foreigners. I appeal to all Nigerians to be law abiding, live in peace and contribute to the growth of democracy in Nigeria.