Nigeria, Qatar Sign Agreements On Bilateral Air Service…As Buhari Urges OPEC Members To Stabilize Oil Market
Nigeria and the State of Qatar on Sunday in Doha signed Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) to pave way for direct flights between major cities of both countries.
Both countries also signed an agreement to avoid double taxation and tax evasion on the sideline of President Muhammadu Buhari’s state visit to Qatar.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, representing President Muhammadu Buhari, signed the air services agreement on behalf of the country while Qatar’s Minister of Transportation and Communications, Jassim Bin Saif Alsulaiti, signed on behalf the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani.
The agreement which was signed in the presence of both leaders is expected to pave way for more direct flights between major cities of both countries on the principle of reciprocity by the designated airlines on behalf of the country.
Sirika said after the signing of the agreement that the accord would promote trade, commerce, tourism and travel between both countries.
“Qatar is the richest country in the world at the moment in terms of per capita income, their economy is strong and their national carrier, Qatar airlines, is one of the most viable and most focused in the industry.
“They (Qatar airlines) presently fly to Nigeria but they want to fly to more cities and with the focus of the present administration in Nigeria on establishing a national carrier, we have commenced discussions on how we can partner with countries like Qatar in our quest to establish a national carrier”.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who signed the agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes income with her Qatari counterpart, Ali Shareef Al Emadi, expressed delight that the agreement which was negotiated since February 2015 has been finalised.
“What is symbolic in this agreement is that the Qataris who are already investing heavily in Nigeria will bring in more investments because the earlier lack of an agreement to avoid double taxation was a stumbling block to some of the investors.
“I am very confident that the signing of this agreement will bring much more investment and business between Qatar and Nigeria,” she told reporters after signing the agreement.
In his remarks to journalists, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geofrey Onyeama, said President Buhari and Sheikh Al-Thani had fruitful discussions on security, oil price stability, and the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
“The Qatari leader acknowledged that President Buhari has really created an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country.
“The Emir made the point on the war against corruption in Nigeria and the progress President Buhari is making in that front and they are of the opinion that if that problem is addressed with focused polices, the country will progress. The Emir also made it clear that the Qatari’s are ready to invest in Nigeria in a big way”, he said.
Meanwhile, President Buhari also on Sunday in Doha emphasised the need for member states of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members to cooperate and find a common ground to stabilise crude oil prices.
Speaking at a bilateral meeting with the Sheikh Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, President Buhari described the current market situation in the industry, which has seen oil prices plummet by 70 per cent since mid-2014, as “totally unacceptable.’’
“As members of OPEC and Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), our relations in the areas of oil and gas, which our two nations heavily rely on, need to be enhanced and coordinated for the benefit of our people. The current market situation in the oil industry is unsustainable and totally unacceptable.
“We must cooperate both within and outside our respective organisations to find a common ground to stabilize the market, which will be beneficial to our nations,’’ the President said on the second day of his state visit to Qatar.
The President used the occasion of his address to the Emir to commend the existing cordial bilateral relations between both countries and invited prospective Qatari investors to take advantage of the abundant opportunities in Nigeria and invest in the key areas of energy, agriculture, real estate development, banking and finance.
He assured prospective investors of government protection of their persons and investment, noting that in the course of his visit, the delegations from Nigeria and Qatar would formalise at least two bilateral agreements to boost economic cooperation between both countries.
President Buhari also weighed-in on the situation in the Middle East, commending the role Qatar is playing in resolving the present Syrian crisis, the Palestinian cause and efforts in reconstructing Gaza.
“The conflicts in Yemen and Syria with their attendant humanitarian crisis need genuine international effort to solve. Nigeria as a peace loving country identifies with the State of Qatar in all her peace efforts in the world to end terrorist activities.
“Nigeria is a victim of terrorism. It is with heavy heart that I stand before you and say activities of Boko Haram have led to loss of many lives and displacement of innocent people in our dear nation.
“We, however, take pride to inform you that since our coming to power, Boko Haram has been systematically decimated and are in no position to cause serious threat to our development programs.
“I wish to reiterate that Nigeria rejects violence and extremism in all their ramifications, and assure your Highness that we are with the State of Qatar in your efforts to fight terrorism and injustice in your region and in the world at large.’’
President Buhari also called for a lasting solution to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict , saying “we in Nigeria, like the State of Qatar, favour a ‘Two State’ solution, with the State of Palestine living side by side with the State of Israel.
“I want to assure you that we will stand side by side with you, until our brothers and sisters in Palestine achieve their desired objectives.
“Our support for various Security Council resolutions restoring and respecting 1967 boundaries with Jerusalem as capital of Palestine is firm and unshaken,’’ he said.