Nigeria’s presidential aide dismisses incorrect reports on ‘rejected’ Qatar visit

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and top oil exporter.

Nigerian authorities have responded to “incorrect” media claims that have surfaced online over the last few days that falsely accuse Qatar of allegedly rejecting an official visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Gulf state.

According to a media report by Sahara Reporters, the Nigerian government had suggested a visit by the president to the Gulf country on 11 and 12 September, however, the report claims Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani allegedly “rejected” the request.

Addressing the media claim, Buhari’s special assistant on digital communications, Bashir Ahmad, said the report was inaccurate and clarified that the request to visit the Gulf nation was not denied by Qatar.

The adjustment to Buhari’s request to visit the Gulf state, he continued, is entirely the result of standard diplomatic procedure.

“This headline is entirely incorrect. Qatar didn’t reject the President’s visit. In fact, like you clearly stated it in your story, it’s Qatar that invited Nigeria and those familiar with diplomacy know how this thing works, the dates always have to be suitable for both parties,” Ahmad wrote in a tweet on Monday.

Reports that circulated online pointed towards an alleged statement from Qatar’s mission in Abuja which said: “The proposed dates for the visit are not suitable and kindly request the Nigerian side to propose other dates for the visit during the first quarter of the year 2023.”

“The Embassy of the State of Qatar avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Regions Department) the assurance of its highest consideration,” the statement allegedly added.

Clarifying those allegations, Nigeria’s presidency said Doha “raised concerns” that Buhari’s proposed visit dates were “too close” to the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022.

Buhari’s senior special assistant in Media and Publicity, Shehu Garba, speaking to Peoples Gazette on Monday, cited a response from Qatar.

“The Embassy of the State of Qatar on August 19th, 2022 wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, saying, ‘we have the honour to communicate that the proposed dates for the visit are not suitable and kindly request the Nigerian side to propose other dates for the visit during the first quarter of the year 2023’,” Garba said, according to Peoples Gazette.

“The Qataris explained that the dates chosen by Nigeria were too close to the World Cup tournament which is being hosted by them,” he added.

Doha News has contacted authorities in Doha for a comment but has yet to receive a comment.

Qatar is due to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, bringing the global footballing tournament to the Middle East for the first time.

The major event will kick off on 20 November and end with the final match on 18 December – also coinciding with Qatar’s national day.

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