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Qatar: Presidency dismisses snub claims, says Tinubu’ll visit as planned

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Qatar: Presidency dismisses snub claims, says Tinubu’ll visit as planned

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The Presidency has said the Qatari government did not snub President Bola Tinubu.

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The Presidency said the botched investment forum between the Nigerian and Qatari business communities is only one of several events lined up ahead of the President’s State Visit to the Gulf country on March 2 -3, 2023.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr Bayo Onanuga on Saturday.

“It is not correct for anyone to insinuate that the Qatari authorities have snubbed the Nigerian leader over a business and investment forum which is tangential to the all-important State Visit and which President Tinubu is slated to attend as a guest,” Onanuga said.

Onanuga was responding to a leaked note verbale between the foreign ministries of both countries, which showed the Arab nation would be unable to hold a proposed forum intended to be held during Tinubu’s visit.

Qatar said its decision to decline the business and investment forum was due to the lack of a legally binding agreement with Nigeria to promote investment.

More so, the letter explained that the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani, “will be carrying out official missions outside the country during the upcoming visit period,” which makes him unavailable for the forum.

But in a statement titled ‘President Bola Tinubu’s state visit to Qatar,’ the Presidency explained, “President Tinubu is expected to proceed to Qatar on the State Visit as scheduled and during the visit, the Nigerian leader will engage in high-level bilateral discussions with Qatari leader on many important matters, covering the full range of diplomatic and economic issues.”

The Presidency said, “We are aware of a leaked diplomatic correspondence between the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Abuja and our Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s state visit to Qatar between March 2 – 3, 2024.

“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.”

It said the note verbale is about a private sector-led Business and Investment Forum to be held on the margins of President Tinubu’s State Visit. The event is being put together by the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture 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 at 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,” the Presidency insisted.

NACCIMA and Qatar Chambers of Commerce and Industry, it said, were collaborating to take advantage of President Tinubu’s visit to Doha to mobilise the business community from our two countries to explore opportunities in key economic sectors such as oil & gas, manufacturing, agro-business, construction, real estate, ICT, Renewable Energy, Solid Minerals and service sector, among others.

It said the two leaders are committed to maintaining and building on the existing cordial and special relationship between Nigeria and the State of Qatar.

This is not the first time a leaked correspondence between Nigeria and Qatar would suggest a rejected visit of a Nigerian leader.

In 2022, a similar correspondence showed that the Qatari government postponed a visit by former President Muhammadu Buhari slated for September 11 – 12 because “the proposed dates are not suitable.”

Although Buhari’s visit was at the invitation of the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Qatari government raised concerns that the proposed dates were “too close” to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which it later hosted from November 20 to December 18, 2022.

Buhari embarked on the trip on March 5 – 9, 2023, where he attended the 5th United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries. Tinubu’s trip to Qatar falls almost within the same time window as Buhari’s.

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