Tinubu to Qatari investors: Report officials obstructing progress, asking for bribe

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has assured the international business community that Nigeria is ready for serious business, saying his administration will deal decisively with any and all entrenched interests in the country undermining investor confidence in the nation’s economy.

He also pledged to remove all bottlenecks standing in the way of profitable and legitimate enterprise.

Speaking at the Nigeria-Qatar Business and Investment Forum in Doha Sunday, President Tinubu told Qatari investors that Africa’s largest economy and its systems were being reformed and upgraded, and asked Qatar’s captains of industry to report any government official who demands a bribe or any form of inducement at any point in their business endeavour moving forward with full assurance of their direct access to the President’s Office.

“I am here to give you the assurance that reforms are going on; forget about whatever you heard in the past. Whatever is the obstacle or problem that some of you might have experienced; it is in the past, because there is no obstacle in the future.

“Do not offer a bribe to any of our people, and if it is requested or taken from you, report to us. You will have access to me. Nigeria will no longer be defined by the past, but by what we do now and moving forward. Do not let perceptions become a hindrance to your will to invest. Nigeria is serious about revolutionising investment promotion.

“We are removing obstacles today and we are going to continue to remove all obstacles. We have done so much within nine months. And I am assuring you, it is free entry, and free exit. Your funds will flow smoothly into and out of our country. Bring your investments,” the president said.

…On corruption

Tinubu also said the war against corruption and insecurity in Nigeria had been significantly strengthened with the appointment of the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, as National Security Adviser (NSA).

“We have a man who has won many global awards for anti-corruption as an anti-corruption czar. My responsibility is to tell you that Nigeria is open for business, and to assure you that your investments are safe in our hands.

“We have men and women of great reputation here. And we believe we can forge a good committee that will advance our discussions to fruitful conclusions.

“A nation is an artificial entity unless there are good people to drive it. People build great nations and we have great people. We are ready,” the president said.

While assuring Nigeria possesses vast opportunities in various fields, Tinubu said: “We have oil and gas; we have solid minerals. I do not see why we cannot become prolific partners in exploring iron ore, as well as steel production, and energy across the board.

“I am here to give you assurances in all spheres: tourism, hospitality, healthcare, and in many other opportunities that abound around us. Do not be the investors who miss out on the golden opportunity we present.”

…Welcome remarks  

Welcoming the Nigerian delegation in the presence of Qatari captains of industry, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Abdullah Al Thani, Qatar’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, said his country looks forward to exploring opportunities in Nigeria, owing to its population demography and market, as it seeks to prioritize new investments in low carbon initiatives, mineral products, petroleum chemicals, industry, and consumables.

“We look forward to working with our Nigerian counterparts to achieve our joint objectives in these sectors,” the minister said.

Accompanying the President to the Nigeria-Qatar Business and Investment Forum were: Borno state Governor Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, Kaduna state Governor Senator Uba Sani, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos state, Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance Wale Edun, Minister of Solid Minerals Development Dr. Dele Alake, Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, Minister of Youth Dr. Jamila Bio Ibrahim, and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Mr. Ekperipe Ekpo.

Also at the meeting were the National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, Special Adviser on Energy, Mrs. Olu Verheijen, and President Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Dele Kelvin Oye.

 …President welcomes multi-sectoral agreements

Also on Sunday, President  Tinubu, and His Highness, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, witnessed the signing of historic agreements between both nations in Doha. This in a way opened a gateway for leveraging the potential of mutual cooperation in pivotal sectors of education, enterprise development, investment promotion, youth empowerment, mining, tourism, and sports.

Before the signing ceremony at the Qatar Presidential Palace, President Tinubu assured his host of Nigeria’s preparedness to welcome investors into the country, noting the ongoing reforms favoured innovation, return on investments, and multiculturalism.

“Our greatest strength is our people. Our strength lies in the capacity of Nigerian youths. They have energy, talent, and self-belief. They are quality partners for Qatari industry. They are educated and reliable, and they are proactively seeking to add value wherever they are. A few cannot give a bad name to the many. Nigerian youths are ready to be unleashed for the mutual benefit of both nations.

“We have seen clearly the rapid pace and thorough quality of Qatar’s development process. It is impossible not to be moved by what you have accomplished. The leadership in the country has proven its mettle, and we are here to gain deeper insight.

“There is nowhere in the world where you will find return on investment at the level of what you will see in Nigeria. A massive market of over 200 million skilled Nigerians, always industrious and ready to work.

“We face some short-term turbulence at the moment, but we have a government today that reflects the dynamism and talent of the Nigerian people. We are implementing the right solutions. This team works collaboratively with each other and our partners. Nigeria is ready for serious business,” the president said.

…Emir responds

In his remarks,  His Highness, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said  Qatar was open to President Tinubu’s investment push, recalling that he traveled to Nigeria in 2019 owing to his belief that Nigeria is an important and strategic ally on its own and within the context of its role in regional affairs.

“I have no doubt about the great capacity of the Nigerian people. Everywhere in the world, they are known for their brilliance and hard work. We only need to ensure that this is happening inside of Nigeria rather than outside.

“The investments we have made around the world have been very fruitful. This is because we take our time and study opportunities before we invest the common wealth of our people. It is not my money. The money we invest belongs to the future generations of Qatar.

“Mr. President, I am very encouraged by your actions and your passion to create new opportunities. We are very open to this, and follow-up is everything at this point. The will is there for both of us, but we must follow up. I will send a team of officials to Nigeria after Ramadan, and we will advance discussions on what some of the actionable investment opportunities are,” the Qatari leader said.

Tinubu immediately named Edun as the team leader of the government team that will interface with Qatari authorities in investment identification and implementation moving forward.

Furthermore, during the bilateral deliberations, President Tinubu enabled a brief presentation to the Emir by the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake, who spoke in detail about the high-grade of several minerals, including lithium, immediately derivable across the country with an emphasis on imminent opportunities for local mineral processing and value-additive industry in the sector.

The bilateral engagement was followed by a closed-door meeting between the two Heads of State before they proceeded to the signing ceremony for seven bilateral agreements across multiple sectors.

The seven agreements signed are: cooperation agreement in the field of education; regulation of employment of workers with the Government of Qatar; establishment of a joint business council (JBC) between the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA); in addition to a cooperation agreement in the field of youths and sports.

The other agreements are: cooperation in the field of tourism and business events, and a memorandum of understanding combating illicit trade in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

The documents were signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, and relevant officials in the Government of the State of Qatar, Buthaina bint Ali Al Jabr Al Nuaimi, Minister of Education and Higher Education; Dr. Ahmad Hassen Al-Hammadi, Secretary General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Sheikh Khalifa Bin Jassim Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Chamber of Commerce & Industry (QCCI), and Abdullah bin Khalaf bin Hattab Al Kaabi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior (MOI).

Nigerian ministers who were present at the ceremony were Edun, Alake, Pate, Uzoka-Anite, and Ekpo, as well as Ribadu and Verheijen.