President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday departed the royal terminal of King AbdulAziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for Abuja, after attending the 14th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the presidential aircraft conveying the president and members of his entourage left the Jeddah airport for Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at about 2:45 pm local time.
Some senior officials of the Government of Saudi Arabia led by the Deputy Governor of Mecca Province, Abdullah Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz, were at the airport to bid the president farewell.
Also at the airport were officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
While in Saudi Arabia, the president participated in the OIC summit where he noted with delight the decision of the organisation to support the Inter-Basin Water Transfer project, aimed at recharging the Lake Chad.
According to the Nigerian leader, the shrinking of Lake Chad to about 10 per cent of its original size had adversely affected over 30 million livelihoods in the sub-region.
He stressed that the shrinking had caused severe economic deprivation, fuelled illegal migration to Europe, caused displacement of communities and radicalisation of youth, forcing them to join the Boko Haram terrorist group.
President Buhari, during the summit, also thanked the organisation for its various interventions under the Special Programme for the Development of Africa and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development.
According to him, the robust interventions of the various OIC institutions, particularly the IDB group, had been effective in such key sectors as trade and investment, agriculture, rural development and food security.
He said: “For instance, we in Nigeria appreciate the bank’s support for our National Food Security Programme and the various road and school rehabilitation projects and the second Niger Bridge.”
He expressed confidence that the continued support of Nigeria’s multilateral partners, notably the OIC and the Islamic Development Bank group, would be most needed as the country redoubled efforts towards achieving rapid socio-economic development.
President Buhari, on June 1, had a bilateral meeting with the Chadian President, Idris Deby Itno, in Makkah on the sideline of the meeting of the OIC.
During the meeting, the president said he would host leaders of the Lake Basin Commission to an informal security summit on the sideline of his second term inaugural ceremonies on June 12 in Abuja.
According to the president, the summit is meant to fashion out new strategies to bring to a permanent end, Boko Haram terrorism, being faced by the countries of the Lake Chad region.
Shortly before leaving the Holy City of Makkah, President Buhari met briefly with the former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, who was in Makkah to perform the lesser hajj.
The Nigerian leader had, during the summit, expressed appreciation to the government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the elaborate arrangements for the success of the summit.
Since Nigeria joined the OIC in 1986, President Buhari has become the third Nigerian leader to attend its conference, after late President Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan. (NAN)
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