The Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Khadija Abba-Ibrahim, on Tuesday appealed to the National Assembly to return control of Hajj Commission to the ministry for proper coordination.
The minister made the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja when members of the committee on Nigeria-Saudi Arabia Parliamentary Friendship and Hajj Affairs, led by its chairman Abdulahi Balarabe-Salame, visited her.
She explained that Hajj Commission used to be under the control of the ministry before it was taken to the presidency.
She said that the commission was now domiciled in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.
Ms. Abba-Ibrahim said: “by tradition in diplomatic cycle, a country does not relate with sub-organ of government but the state through Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“Hajj office domiciled in the office of the SGF will not be able to operate effectively because Saudi Government will not have any direct dealing with the office of the SGF.
“That explains the reason we always communicate with them through diplomatic channels of communication of Note Verbal.”
The minister pointed out that since the commission was still domiciled in the office of the SGF, the ministry was not involved in its activities.
“So we are appealing to you; if there is anything in the legislation you can use to bring back Hajj Commission to the ministry, we are seeking your assistance to help us.
“There is no point in us doing all the policies; if the affairs of the commission are not domiciled in the ministry; it is worrisome,’’ she said.
The minister urged the committee to strengthen bilateral relations between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, saying the two countries had areas they could explore for their mutual benefits.
She listed some of the areas to include trade and economy.
She said that there was large volume of trade between the two countries.
“The tie between Saudi Arabia and Nigeria is very cordial and has been for ages; there is therefore need to reinforce and sustain the relationship.
Ms. Abba-Ibrahim said that when President Muhammadu Buhari visited Saudi Arabia, he reiterated the need to revive the Joint Commission between the two countries.
Earlier in his remarks, the committee chairman, Mr. Balarabe-Salame, called on the ministry to facilitate multiple entry visas for the members of the committee wishing to visit Saudi Arabia.
He also stressed the need to convene the 3rd Saudi Arabia-Nigeria joint commission which was held in 2013.