Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has hinted on the development of new guidelines for those negotiating investment and trade contract agreements for the Federal Government.
The Vice President who attributed corruption, compromise and lack of transparency for poor contract negotiations and implementation in Nigeria, said that the guidelines will set out steps and processes for negotiating investment, trade and other contract agreements for Nigeria
The Vice President said these while declaring open a two-day physical and virtual capacity building for middle level negotiators drawn from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
Speaking at the training organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Inter-Agency Committee for Stopping Illicit Financial Flows from Nigeria, he noted that the nation is in need of new draft guidelines for negotiating contract agreements.
He said, “There is need for this workshop to come up with new draft guidelines for negotiating contract agreements to be presented to the government for consideration.
“The guidelines will set out steps and processes for negotiating investment, trade and other contract agreements for Nigeria.”
Osinbajo 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.
“It is not just poor negotiation; poor monitoring and implementation of contract agreements have dire consequences for the country.
Corruption, compromise and lack of transparency are key factors in poorly drafted contract agreements,” he stated.
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.
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, 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”, Owasanoye 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, “At the moment, there is 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.”
The ICPC boss 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, 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 specialization 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 stated.
He also advised the participants at the workshop to focus on dispute settlement matters during negotiation of contract agreements.