FG: Samoa Agreement Does Not Violate Any Nigerian Law

•Debunks claims that $150bn will accrue to Nigeria from the agreement

•Says fake news will no longer be taken lightly

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government yesterday explained that the Samoa Agreement with the European Union (EU) does not violate any Nigerian law, clarifying that it was signed to boost food security, and inclusive economic development.

It further clarified that the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) -EU Cotonou Agreement, which expired in 2020, had facilitated the commitment of about €1.7billion in grants to Nigeria through the 9th, 10th and 11th European Development Fund (EDF).

This is as it vowed that fake news on the signed agreement would no longer be taken lightly.  

Last November, the European Union (EU), its 27 member-states, and the 79 member-states of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) signed an agreement in Apia, the capital of the Pacific Island country of Samoa, referred to as the ‘Samoa Agreement’.

Speaking yesterday at a joint media briefing with the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, on the controversy surrounding the agreement, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu Abubakar, again clarified that none of the articles of the agreement showed that Nigeria had recognised Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) rights.

He said Nigeria won’t enter into an agreement that was antithetical to the constitution as well as the religious and cultural sensibilities of the heterogeneous people of Nigeria.

The economic planning minister explained that about 200 areas of cooperation were contained in the agreement signed by Nigeria.

He said a survey indicated that over 5,000 water, sanitation, energy, education, health and other micro projects were executed in about 4,800 communities in Nigeria over the course of the agreement.

The minister also clarified that the document did not indicate that $150 billion was to come to the country.

He described the Samoa Agreement as a veritable instrument for Nigeria’s development cooperation with the EU beyond aid, noting that the OACPS – EU Partnership was one of the most diverse and multifaceted development pacts in the international system.

The minister said the partnership between Nigeria and the OACPS dated back to the Georgetown Agreement of 1975, which brought together countries in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific for the establishment of a framework for trade and development cooperation with the European Union (EU) as one of its objectives. 

He said the OACPS in 2018 launched the processes for negotiation of a successor Partnership Agreement ahead of expiration of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020.

According to him, it was at its 107th Session in Lome, Togo, that the OACPS Council of Ministers adopted a Negotiating Mandate and appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Togo, Prof. Robert Dussey as the Chair of the OACPS Central Negotiating Group (CNG). 

He noted that the objectives of the new partnership was to contribute to the attainment of sustainable development in all OACPS countries through strengthened and deepened political and economic partnership.

He added that the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning (FMBEP) in close collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Ministry of Justice duly followed-up on the negotiation of the Samoa Agreement since September 2018 and confirmed that the outcome was in line with the global conventions, which Nigeria ratified.

 The minister said the views of stakeholders were sought at Inter-Ministerial Meeting on the Nigeria – ACP/EU Partnership on March 28, 2018, at a sensitisation Workshop on Negotiation of the OACPS – EU Post Cotonou Agreement on September 18, 2018, and at a seminar on the New Framework and Instruments of the European Union Development Cooperation held at the Reiz Continental Hotel in Abuja on March, 8, 2024.

He said at the event for the signing of the new Partnership Agreement in Apia, Samoa on November, 15, 2023, 47 out of 79 OACPS countries endorsed the Agreement, while Nigeria endorsed the agreement on June 28, 2024 ahead of the June 30, 2024 deadline for the Parties at the OACPS Secretariat in Brussels, Belgium.

He insisted the Samoa Agreement was a vital legal framework for cooperation between the OACPS and the European Union, with the aim of promoting sustainable development, fighting climate change and its effects, generating investment opportunities and fostering collaboration among OACPS member states at the international stage.

“The European Union agreement is a public document which we will also maybe either provide the link or print out for members. Also, it explains that the 27 member- countries themselves have differences about some areas of the cooperation. So, you can imagine what it was with 79 other countries that signed the agreement. That is why the agreement provides a proposal where a country, each country, not just Nigeria, can issue a declaration, clarifying some basis on which it is signing.  For example, one of the obvious ones, I will make the declaration available as a public document that was presented along with it.

“We didn’t offer it because of concerns about misrepresentation, about LGBT, for example. We are clear that we will see it. But I give example of what we are worried that because of the way Europe is moving to clean energy, we don’t want to sign something that limits our capacity to develop our oil and gas sector clearance,” Bagudu said.

Also speaking, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Idris, expressed outrage at the level of reckless reporting and statements by some media organisations and individuals that border on national security and stability, threatening that the federal government would lodge a formal complaint to the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and also use every lawful means to seek redress in the court of law.

The minister accused a national newspaper (not THISDAY) of recklessness by falsely accusing the government of signing the Samoa deal to promote LGBTQ in the country.

“We found that despicable and wicked because the allegation is nowhere in the document signed. Surprisingly, the paper put forward no evidence nor provided the agreement allegedly signed to prove their point.

“The baseless and sensational story unfortunately formed a basis for khutba (sermons) by some of our respected imams who were misled by the story thereby raising tempers. 

“On the part of the government, we continue on the honourable path of civility by restraining ourselves from taking self-help or draconian measures. While past governments clamped down on the media for infractions much lower than this, we are however toeing the path of civility and the rule of law,” Idris said.

He noted that insidious and inciting publications by the newspaper in the recent months had come across as nothing but a deliberate effort to brush the government with a tar.

Idris noted that in the aftermath of the coup in Niger Republic, the newspaper had championed a jaundiced narrative that the federal government was driving the country into a war and twisted it with regional sentiment to cause disaffection.

The same newspaper gave a banner headline to a baseless accusation that the government was working on citing foreign military bases in the country, without providing any shred of evidence. 

He alleged that the paper also concocted and popularised a lie that the federal government had renamed the Murtala Muhammed Expressway in Abuja to Wole Soyinka Way. 

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