Confusion as Qatar declines Tinubu’s investment forum request, reverses self 24hrs later

There is inexplicable furore as the Embassy of the State of Qatar, declined the request to organise Business and Investment Forum (BIF) for President Bola Tinubu when he visits Qatar between March 2 and 3, 2024 in a letter dated February 22, 2024, citing diplomatic shortfalls....READ FULL ARTICLE

About 24 hours after issuing the letter, the Embassy did a volte face, turned a full circle and issued another letter dated February 23, 2024, consenting to the event.

The letter addressed to the protocol department, ministry of foreign affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, gave reasons for their decline to hold the forum.

They hinged their decision on the ground that there is no agreement signed between both countries on investment promotion and protection, adding that their officials would be preoccupied with another planned summit.

The letter reads, “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 February 22, 02, 2024, which proposed 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 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 and 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.”

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The letter raised mixed reactions, with some Nigerians saying it is disrespectful to the nation and most importantly the president. Others said such responses should motivate Nigeria towards development.

The embassy of Qatar has however reversed its statement, stating their availability to hold the forum.

In its recent letter, dated February 23, 2024, Qatar said, “The Embassy has the honour to convey that the Qatar Chamber of Commerce will host the above-mentioned event on 3rd March 2024, as proposed by the Nigerian side.”

Meanwhile, National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Dele Oye, has reiterated that there are no plans to cancel the Business and Investment Forum, adding that the summit is organised in partnership with the Qatari Chambers of Commerce and Industry to provide an unparalleled platform for Nigerian businesses to engage with their Qatari counterparts.

Oye in a statement said: “We acknowledge the concerns raised following the leak of diplomatic correspondence that has led to some uncertainty regarding the Forum.

“We would like to clarify that this event is a significant element of the broader context of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s state visit to Qatar, scheduled between 2 and 3 March 2024. This visit underscores the strong commitment between Nigeria and the State of Qatar to deepen bilateral economic cooperation.”

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He said the forum aims to explore commercial and investment opportunities across key sectors, including oil & gas, manufacturing, agrobusiness, construction, real estate, ICT, renewable energy, solid minerals, and the service sector.

“We understand that the leaked information may have caused concerns regarding the status of the Forum.

“We wish to reassure all prospective participants and our business community that the event is being prepared with the highest level of dedication and professionalism, aiming to foster stronger business ties between our two countries,” he added.

Reacting to the initial letter, Professor of Political Science, Lagos State University, Kayode Soremekun, explained that no nation would develop another except its interests are catered for.

He noted that Nigeria should focus on developing its country by focusing on power, roads and railway to avert such responses.

“We should recognise that no nation will develop another one unless it is consistent with its own interest. The Nigerian leaders should roll up their sleeves and develop Nigeria so as to avert insults like this, by embarking on low hanging fruits such as power, roads, railways, fund the country’s universities and less corruption, then the world will flock to Nigeria.

“This is somewhat of a blessing in disguise. In our quest for development, our leaders are hooked on the fact that it is an external variable that will catalyse and propel our development. As true as this may seem, this is a starry-eyed disposition. Our leaders need to look inwards so that we can be free from the fetish of perpetually looking outwards for development purposes,” he said.

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Associate Professor of Political Science, Lead City University, Dr Tunde Oseni, said the counter release by the Embassy means that the first rejection was nullified, connoting that the diplomatic rancor that must have followed the rejection has been put to an end.

“It is a protocol thing. In international interactions, there could be protocol issues when communication is not properly done. On the part of the Government of Qatar, they are not saying that President Tinubu’s visit is not recognised but that the forum was not properly communicated. I don’t think there is any political issue involved,” he added.

Explaining further he said the president’s visit had never been affected by the rejection, adding that in diplomatic relations communication is key and when there is a mutual agreement, things go on swiftly.

Research Professor, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Femi Otubanjo, said that saying that the minister would not be available in the first letter is unusual as a presidential visit of such nature is a synchronised affair.

According to him, Nigeria is the one to garner the most benefits from the relations as there are no substantial trade exchanges.

“So, they might not find meeting with the business group a priority, because Nigeria would be the one asking for favours. It would be an asymmetrical relationship because Nigeria needs investment to drive its foreign exchange,” he pointed out.

He, however, frowned that the letters were released to the public, noting that it’s a mischievous act to undermine and embarrass the government....READ FULL ARTICLE

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