Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has hinted on a new set of guidelines for those who negotiate investment and trade contract agreements on behalf of the Federal Government.
The Vice President gave the indication while declaring open a two-day physical and virtual capacity building for middle level negotiators drawn from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, who are involved in negotiating trade agreements with foreign nations and companies for Nigeria.
TheFact Nigeria had earlier reported on the commencement of the training which started today, and is being organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in conjunction with the Inter-Agency Committee on Stopping Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from Nigeria.
Prof. Osinbajo, while delivering his opening address, charged participants at the workshop to come up with new draft guidelines for negotiating contract agreements which should be submitted to the Federal Government for consideration. He said that “the guidelines will set out steps and processes for negotiating investment, trade and other contract agreements for Nigeria”.
The vice president, noted that corruption, compromise and lack of transparency were key factors responsible for poorly drafted contract agreements, in addition to poor negotiation, poor monitoring and implementation of contract agreements, resulting in the huge loss of revenue through illicit financial flows from Nigeria.
He urged the participants at the capacity building to pay more attention to the dispute resolution clauses which, according to him, are often skewed against the country.
Prof. Osinbajo commended the Inter-Agency Committee for Stopping Illicit Financial Flows from Nigeria and the ICPC for organising the training programme for negotiators.
The Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, revealed that fresh draft guidelines for negotiating contract agreements will be prepared by the Inter-Agency Committee for Stopping Illicit Financial Flows from Nigeria and presented to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Federal Government.
In his presentation at the capacity building titled “Guidelines for Negotiating International Agreements for Economic Development”, the ICPC Chief emphasised the need for the Office of Attorney General to be the depository of all contract agreements signed by the country and ministries, departments and agencies of government.
According to him, there was currently no mandatory depository obligation of all major agreements by MDAs. “The Office of Attorney General of the Federation ought to be the official depository for all agreements.”
Owasanoye called for the establishment of foreign agreements registry/oversight functions for the Office of Attorney General of the Federation and the National Assembly, saying this will reduce problems of opacity of contract agreements.
He underscored the importance of negotiation of (commercial) agreements and economic development.
“Poorly negotiated/implemented agreements stultify development. More importantly they lead to losses rather than anticipated economic development.
“Therefore, there is a strong nexus between negotiation of agreements and attaining the aspiration to develop. The negotiation process is therefore important to development,” he added.
The Chairman of Inter-Agency Committee for Stopping Illicit Financial Flows from Nigeria, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, identified poorly negotiated and hidden contracts as one of the most identifiable ways through which illicit financial flows happen.
He noted that the training was necessary to develop a crop of Nigerian officials skilled in international negotiations in general and with specialisation in key thematic areas.
“This workshop is being organised to help the Nigerian negotiating officials cope with international obligations. We want to develop core people who will make sure that agreements signed for the country and government do not lead to illicit financial flows,” he remarked.
Dr. Dipeolu, offering practical tips for successful negotiations, accentuated the need for preparation through assembling a strong inter-disciplinary team, knowing negotiating objectives and obtaining a negotiating mandate.
He also advised the participants at the workshop to focus on dispute settlement matters during negotiation of contract agreements.
“It is very important that you pay close attention to the clauses on dispute settlement matters. The agreements must comply with Nigeria’s legal requirements,” said Dipeolu, who is also the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters (Office of the Vice Present).
Presentations were also made at the training by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Ade Ipaye; Executive Secretary of Nigeria Investment Promotion Council, Ms. Yewande Sadiku; Special Adviser to the Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Priscilla Achakpa, and a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Dr. Dayo Ayoade.
Five breakout sessions are expected to hold on Tuesday, day two, of the capacity building.
Coordinating the breakout sessions are Ms. Patricia Okala, Legal Adviser of NIPC (Investment Negotiations); Prof. Jonathan Aremu, an International Trade Consultant (Trade Negotiations); Mr. Mathew Olusanya, Coordinating Director of Tax Operations Group, Federal Inland Revenue Service (Tax Negotiations); Prof. Dayo Ayoade, an Environmental Law and Energy Policy Expert (Natural Resource Negotiations), and Dr. Priscilla Achakpa, Special Adviser to the Minister of State for Environment (Environment Negotiations).