Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, says the nation must continue to engage crack teams and subject matter experts to avoid the serious economic consequences arising from badly negotiated or poorly crafted international economic agreements in addition to the creation of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations in 2017.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, made this submission at the opening of a one-day capacity building workshop for negotiators of international economic agreements, jointly organized by the Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Inter-Agency Committee on Stopping Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from Nigeria.
Expressing the hope “that this capacity building workshop will be the start of a structured regular programme of training for negotiators in the initial areas of investment, trade, environment, natural resources and taxation agreements.
Referencing instances of agreements that brought about undesirable outcomes for countries, the Vice President noted that the Simandou Iron Ore contract in Guinea, the Bilateral Investment Treaty in Pakistan, and the Strategic Alliance Contract in Nigeria, among others, point to the fact that “poorly negotiated contracts or framework agreements can lead to serious financial losses for countries.”
He explained that one of the most significant sources of economic loss for a country is the consequence of poorly negotiated agreements.
The VP then noted that “every negotiator must realize he or she is putting the entire nation’s economic prospects on the table every time they negotiate.
In preparation for the Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP 26), Prof. Osinbajo urged negotiators from Nigeria and other developing countries to focus on the issues of a ‘just transition’ to the net-zero emission target, including ensuring that gas projects continue to be funded by international financial institutions.
According to him, “a topical issue in terms of negotiations is the preparation for the Climate Change Conference of Parties taking place in the UK towards the end of this year. I expect that the approach that will be taken as we count down to that event will be to compose an interdisciplinary team of experts and negotiators that can engage meaningfully in the talks.
In another meeting on Monday with Nigerian-born Dr Michael Ugwueke, the Chief Executive Officer of Methodist Hospitals, Tennessee, USA, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the Federal Government will look into the National Health Insurance Scheme to complement budgetary allocations to the health sector.
The Vice President said “right now, practically all of the funding for the health care system is from the budget, and for a country this size, 200 million people, it will be extremely difficult to expect that we will resource our health care system purely from the budget.
“The National Health Insurance according to the Vice President will be one way of giving us a more substantial pool of resources which we can use not only to improve infrastructure but also improve earnings for personnel.”
Earlier in his remarks, Dr Ugwueke said he was in the country partly to explore areas of partnership between the Federal Government and the Methodist Hospital especially in complementing efforts of the Buhari administration in transforming the health care system.
He commended the Buhari administration’s efforts in tackling COVID-19, describing government’s intervention in containing the pandemic as incredibly successful.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire who was also in attendance said the Federal Government will welcome offers of collaboration from the US-based, Nigerian-born medical expert and hospital administrator.