HE Al-Khalifa and ambassador Shuaibu cut the ribbon as other guests look on. PICTURES: Jayan Orma
By Noimot Olayiwola/Staff Reporter
Nigerians in Qatar can finally heave a sigh of relief with the official opening of their country’s consular office yesterday.
Since the news about the opening of the embassy was known earlier in April, the small community of the West African country here have remained agog and expectant to see it operational.
Nigerians in Qatar have faced difficulties in getting access to consular services such as document attestation, electronic passport issuance, police character certificate and a number of other services.
Previously, the Nigerian mission in Abu Dhabi was concurrently assigned to Doha, but access to services in the Emirates had never been a smooth one.
However, the official opening of the embassy, which was inaugurated by Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Service Affairs HE Rashid bin Khalifa al-Khalifa in the presence of Nigerian ambassador to Qatar Ahmed Adamu Shuaibu and a number of ambassadors of African embassies in Doha, is expected to boost bilateral relations and co-operation between Nigeria and Qatar.
Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation-Qatar chapter (Nido-Qatar) executives including the president Olu J Millar and general secretary Godfrey Awinoron also attended the opening.
Ahead of the embassy opening, a seven-member delegation from Nigeria’s aviation industry arrived here early yesterday to engage in re-negotiation talks with Qatar on the previous Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between the two nations, ambassador Shuaibu told mediapersons.
Air service agreement is a pact which two nations sign to allow international commercial air transport services between their territories. “The Minister of Aviation Stella Adaeze Oduah, was supposed to lead the team but she couldn’t make it. But the delegation comprises directors from the Aviation Ministry and they will start the renegotiation process tomorrow (Monday) and sign an agreement on Tuesday,” the ambassador said.
Meanwhile, the official mentioned a number of areas where Nigeria is likely to seek Qatari investors from both the government and private sectors.
“We are looking at areas of investments by Qatar and private investors in Nigeria’s economy as Qatar today is the most prolific investor around the world. Nigeria’s economy is one of the fastest growing, not only in Africa, but also in the world,” he claimed. Ambassador Shuaibu maintained that returns on investments in Nigeria is one of the highest in the world and expressed optimism that Qatar, being a very pragmatic investor, will look at the country’s economy very favourably.
In view of the political crises in Mali, the envoy disclosed Nigeria’s intention of asking Qatar, which is regarded as a centre of political dialogue worldwide, to wade in and help stabilise its troubled northern neighbour, claiming that Mali’s stability will impact the entire West African region.
“In terms of the political arena, one key area that Nigeria is looking forward to Qatar, is in trying to solve the problem in Mali, which is at the backyard of Nigeria. The stability in Mali will have a significant effect on the entire West Africa region and invariably on Africa as a whole,” he reiterated.
On other areas of investments, he mentioned that Nigeria’s agriculture sector is one of the viable options for foreign investments. “Nigeria has a very vital and conducive climate for agricultural production and Qatar’s long term strategic vision towards food security is why we are inviting them because we are aware that they have already invested heavily in a few Africa countries such as Sudan and we hope they will favourably look at Nigeria too,” he said, while pointing out that Nigeria has the land and the labour.
He claimed that Nigeria’s 170mn population with some 70% of them in the agriculture sector, is an incentive to foreign investors.
The ambassador also mentioned that other areas such as Oil and Gas (liquified natural gas), telecommunications as well as banking and finance sectors, are beaconing to investors.
On general welfare of members of Nido-Qatar, ambassador Shuaibu stressed that the mission is keen to take care of the needs of the community and all the issues of concerns they might have.
“A good number of Nigerians have been coming here for consular services and the main area of need that we have identified is the issuance of electronic passport as unfortunately, in the entire Gulf area, only the Nigerian embassy in Saudi Arabia issues such a passport,” he explained.
The official mentioned in the meantime, a mobile passport team from the Nigeria Immigration Service has been invited and will be in Doha soon.
“The Immigration’s comptroller general has assured me that the team will be here for a couple of days to issue passports for those in need,” he said.
The population of Nigerians in Qatar is estimated at less than 10,000.
The embassy is expected to create a database of all Nigerians via a register in the mission and on its soon to be launched website, where community members can register online.
Ambassador Shuaibu also hopes to formally meet the entire Nigerian community soon.
The Nigerian mission is located in Building 39, Zone 63, Street 941 off Istiqbal Street in Dafna, West Bay area.
The business hours at the embassy is: Sunday-Thursday: 8am-12noon – submission of documents; 2pm-3pm – collection of documents.
More information about the embassy can be had by calling 44936346.
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