Leaked memo: Tinubu not snubbed by Qatar — Presidency

The Presidency has dismissed the insinuation that President Bola Tinubu’s request for an investment forum meeting during his upcoming trip to Qatar has been turned down by the Middle Eastern country.

A leaked memo emerged on Saturday in which the Embassy of Qatar in Abuja conveyed its apologies for the inability of the country to hold the meeting as requested on the sidelines of President Tinubu’s visit to the country next week.

A statement issued on Saturday by Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, however, said the event was being put together by the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and Qatar’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The leaked memo dated February 22, 2024, was addressed to the Protocol Department, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it stated: “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 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.”

But addressing the issue, the presidential aide acknowledged the leaked diplomatic correspondence and blamed it on the handiwork of mischief makers.

The statement read in part: “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, His Highness, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.

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

“NACCIMA and Qatar Chambers of Commerce and Industry are 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 the service sector, among others.

“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 the Qatari leader on many important matters, covering the full range of diplomatic and economic issues.

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

“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.”