FG Dismisses Rejection Reports, Insists Tinubu will Visit Qatar

FG Dismisses Rejection Reports, Insists Tinubu will Visit Qatar

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday stated that the visit of President Bola Tinubu to Qatar would go ahead as scheduled, dismissing a leaked letter rejecting Nigeria’s request for a business and investment forum with Qatar during the period of the visit.


In a leaked letter, the Government of the State of Qatar had declined a proposal by the Nigerian government for a joint business and investment forum during Tinubu’s planned state visit to the country in March 2024.
The Presidency has however insisted that the leaked diplomatic paper was the work of mischief makers and that the Qatari government did not snub President Tinubu.


On its part, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement by its spokesperson, Fransisca Omayuli, said it was “aware of the circulation of a diplomatic correspondence on social media and wishes to state that it will not comment on leaks.”
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform you 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 statement added.
In a separate statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, the Presidency stated that the Qatari government did not snub Tinubu.


Onanuga, in the statement, 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.”
He noted that: “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, His Highness, Sheik Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.”


Onanuga added that: “The State Visit is particularly aimed at strengthening the bilateral economic cooperation between Nigeria and Qatar.
He further revealed that President Tinubu is expected to proceed to Qatar on the state visit as scheduled and during the visit, the Nigerian leader would engage in high-level bilateral discussions with the Qatari leader on many important matters, covering the full range of diplomatic and economic issues.
He insisted: “President Tinubu and His Highness Al-Thani are both committed to maintaining and building on the existing cordial and special relationship between Nigeria and the State of Qatar.”


Tinubu, according to a letter from the Embassy of Qatar in Abuja to the Protocol Department of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated February 22, 2024, planned to visit Qatar between March 2 and March 3 and had requested a business and economic roundtable with the Qatari Ministry of Commerce and Industry.


But in its response, the Embassy of Qatar, on behalf of the country’s Ministry of Commerce, declined the offer to hold any business and investment forum with Nigeria on the margins of Tinubu’s visit on March 2, saying there is no agreement between both countries on investment promotion and protection.
The letter also said the Qatari Minister of Commerce and Industry would be on official missions outside the country while the country would also be hosting a Web Summit during the period of Tinubu’s planned visit.
The letter read in part: “The Embassy of the State of Qatar in Abuja presents its compliments to the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


“Regarding the upcoming State visit of H.E. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Qatar from 2nd-3rd March 2024 and with reference to your Note: Ref: ME.631 2024 dated 12/02/2024, which proposed the holding of a Business and Investment Forum (BIF) on the margins of Mr. President’s visit to Qatar on 2nd March 2024.


“The Embassy has the honour to inform that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Qatar apologises that it will not be able to hold a Business and Investment Forum as proposed by the Nigerian side due to the following reasons: “Unfortunately, there is no any agreement signed between the State of Qatar and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Investment Promotion and Protection.


“His Excellency the Minister of Commerce and Industry will be carrying out official missions outside the country during the upcoming 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 Embassy of the State of Qatar avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the assurances of its highest consideration,” the letter explained.

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