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Qatar declines business, investment forum with Nigeria

The government of Qatar has rejected the request of the Nigerian government to hold a Business and Investment Forum (BIF) when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu…

The government of Qatar has rejected the request of the Nigerian government to hold a Business and Investment Forum (BIF) when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu visits the country in March.

A letter by the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Abuja, addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and dated February 22, 2024, stated that Qatar had no running business agreement with Nigeria.

“The upcoming state visit of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Qatar from March 2 to 3, 2024, and with reference to your note: Ref: ME.631\2024, dated February 12, 2024, proposed the holding of a Business and Investment Forum on the margins of Mr President’s visit to Qatar on March 2, 2024.

“The embassy has the honour to inform that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Qatar apologised that it would not be able to hold a business and investment forum as proposed by the Nigerian side due to the following reason: Unfortunately, there is no agreement signed between Qatar and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Investment Promotion and Protection,” part of the letter stated.

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It also claimed that Qatar’s minister of commerce and industry would be carrying out official missions outside the country during Tinubu’s visit period.

“The State of Qatar will be hosting a web summit during the suggested period and the state’s authorities will be preoccupied with this event,” the letter added.

Tinubu will still travel to Doha – Ministry

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that President Tinubu will still embark on a State Visit to Doha, Qatar in March as scheduled.

A statement by the spokesperson of the ministry, Francisca Omayuli said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) will embark on a State Visit to Qatar from 2nd – 3rd March, 2024 to further cement the excellent relations existing between the two countries.

“During the visit, discussions will be held at the highest level, on a wide range of bilateral and economic issues.

“The President will be accompanied on the trip by the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar (OON), among some other ministers and top government officials.”

The statement added that “The ministry is aware of the circulation of a diplomatic correspondence on social media and wishes to state that it will not comment on leaks.”

When contacted earlier yesterday, Alkasim Abdulkadir, Special Assistant on Media and Communication Strategy to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, had said the issues raised in the letter had been resolved and overtaken by events.

He said the presidential state visit was not affected, and blamed “mischief makers and unpatriotic Nigerians” for the leak of the “note verbale.”

He said, “The letter is a ‘note verbale’, which is the appropriate medium of diplomatic correspondence and engagement. Presidential state visits involve numerous activities, including requests for bilateral side meetings on the margins of main events.

“This doesn’t affect the presidential state visit; and moreover, the issues raised in the letter have been resolved and overtaken by events.

“The leak is the handiwork of mischief makers and unpatriotic Nigerians.”

In the same vein, the Presidency in a statement by a presidential media aide, Bayo Onanuga, noted that President Tinubu was never snubbed, describing the leaked letter as the handiwork of mischief makers.

He said, “The leaked diplomatic paper by mischief makers about an investment forum is not in any way a snub on President Tinubu by the Qatari government.

“The Note Verbale is about a private sector-led business and investment forum to be held on the margins of President Bola Tinubu’s state visit.

“The event is being put together by the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and Qatar’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry, where business people from Nigeria will engage their counterparts from Qatar on commercial and investment opportunities available in both countries.

“We note the strong bilateral relationship between our two countries and affirm that the state visit by President Bola Tinubu to Qatar is on the invitation of the Emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.

“The state visit is particularly aimed at strengthening the bilateral economic cooperation between Nigeria and Qatar.

“President Tinubu and Al-Thani are both committed to maintaining and building on the existing cordial and special relationship between Nigeria and the State of Qatar.

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