Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The federal government yesterday approved the ratification of a bilateral air transport agreement between Nigeria and the United States to strengthen economic and socio-cultural relations between the two countries.
Briefing reporters after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, sought the council’s approval for the ratification.
The minister who said both the United States and Nigeria were parties to the Chicago Convention of December 7, 1994, explained that Article 6 of the convention mandates parties to the agreement to sign air services agreement with member states to improve their socio-political and economic relations.
He said: “The aviation minister presented a memo today (Wednesday) on the approval for ratification of the air transport agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the United States of America.
“The minister sought the council’s ratification of the air transport agreement between USA and Nigeria. You will recall that both United States and Nigeria are parties to the Chicago Convention on the 7th of December, 1994. Article 6 of the convention actually urges parties to sign air services agreement with member states to improve social, political and economic ties.
“The US has ratified its own and Mr. President and council graciously accepted today to also ratify this agreement. So, today, Mr. President signed valid agreement of air transport service between Nigeria and the US with the attendant benefits for both countries, especially as Nigeria is working towards having its own full national airline.
“So, we will now take advantage of this air transport bilateral agreement to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties between the two countries.”
In his own briefing, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, said the council also approved a memorandum that he presented, seeking the ratification of Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement signed in 2016 between Nigeria and Singapore. It also approved another agreement between Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco.
“In 2016, the Attorney-General of the Federation came up with a new model of Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and that year, Nigeria signed based on that new model between Nigeria and Morocco, and Nigeria and Singapore.
“The whole idea was to grant more protection to Nigerian investors, when they invest abroad and to give Nigeria more protection when other investors come into Nigeria. Basically, those were what we presented in FEC and the council graciously approved that Mr. President should ratify it and the Attorney-General will present to Mr. President for his ratification and the agreement will come into effect thereafter,” he said.
Also briefing, the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Mahmoud, said the council approved a new national forest policy, which he described as a review of the 2006 policy with the intention of providing employment opportunities, means of livelihood, foreign exchange from the export of wood and as well reduce poverty.
“So, we have revised it (2006 policy) and produced a new one, and we believe this will go a long way in generating employment, which is an issue at hand. Youth and women who are vulnerable in rural areas usually bear the brunt of this issue of deforestation.
“The more we populate our forest with trees, the better for the people not just in the rural areas but even the economy. Currently, we have suspended the export of forest products because we do not have enough control under the old policy. So, we have suspended that,” he said.