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Nigeria reviews bilateral aggrements

NIGERIA  is to review all bilateral agreements  with other countries to enable the country derive maximum benefits from the existing 376 agreements/ instruments.

Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili said the agreements to be reviewed or renegotiated, include all joint commissions, bilateral cooperation instruments, and memoranda of understanding.

The instruments are to be reviewed and submitted within eight weeks to FEC which also directed ministries, departments and agencies to forward reports on their implementation of the 2010 budget within two weeks.

The meeting which was chaired by Vice-President Namadi Sambo took the decision on the bilateral pacts after considering a memo from the Minister/Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman.

The memo sought a close monitoring of the implementation of the agreements.

Information made available to the FEC by the Ministry indicated that Nigeria was not deriving the requisite benefits from the bilateral agreements it entered into with many countries.

Akunyili, who briefed journalists after the meeting, added that the council also approved the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to develop a national policy on joint commissions.

She said, “The Minister/Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission came to council with a memo on the status of implementation of bilateral/joint commission and related instruments of cooperation concluded between Nigeria and friendly nations and to seek the council’s approval for a comprehensive review and renegotiation of many of the agreements as well as the need to develop a well articulated national policy on joint commissions.

“Joint/bilateral commissions are convenient legal framework for the negotiation, elaboration and implementation of instruments covering various sectors of activities for the benefit of the nationals of contracting parties.

“Nigeria has concluded a total of 376 bilateral joint agreements in various sectors of the economy and concerns have been generally expressed about the unsatisfactory level of implementation and Nigeria’s inability to derive maximum benefit from those agreements, memorandum of understanding and related instruments concluded under the joint commissions framework.”

The minister, who explained that all stakeholders were to participate in the renegotiation exercise, added that inter-ministerial committee would be headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Odein Ajumogobia (SAN).

Akunyili said, “There is, therefore, the need for effective collaboration and participation of joint/bilateral commission agreements with a view to identify inactive and moribund ones.

“Based on the above, the council approved a comprehensive review and possible renegotiation of the non-performing agreements to ensure Nigeria derives maximum benefits from them.

“FEC also approved the setting up of an inter-ministerial committee under the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop a well articulated national policy on joint commissions.

“Again, the council approved effective participation of all relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, in the negotiation of all bilateral agreements, before signature.

“The vice-president directed that all existing bilateral agreements should be reviewed and submitted to the council in the next eight weeks.”

Akunyili explained that the directive to the MDAs to submit reports of 2010 budget implementation was borne out of the government’s desire to ensure a full implementation of the Appropriation Act.

She said, “The vice-president also directed all MDAs to prepare a project implementation report for the year and submit in the next two weeks.

“This is because government wants full implementation of the 2010 budget.”

FEC also approved some contracts during the meeting. One of them is for the purchase and distribution of 2,544 science kits to the public junior secondary schools.

The contract is to be handled by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure in the sum of N711m. The completion period is six weeks.

Another contract okayed by the council is for the construction of 2X60MVA, 132/33KV sub-station at Igangan and 132KV switching station at Igbo-Ora, in the sum of €7.3m plus N885.6m The completion period is 18 months.

Also, a contract for the provision of project management consultancy service for 215MW Kaduna Power Plant and 10MW Katsina Wind Farm projects in the sums of N315.1m and €698,540.00 plus N109.8m, respectively were approved at the meeting.

Both projects are to be completed in 30 months.

The FEC also approved a contract for the construction of a 330KV Kaduna-Jos double circuit transmission line in the sum of €24m plus N3.6bn. It includes a provisional sum of N1.5bn to cover five per cent VAT; 10 per cent contingency; and 10 per cent compensation. The completion period for the contract is 24 months.