Economic benefits of Samoa Agreement huge –  Report

The recently signed agreement between the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) will be of immense benefit to Nigeria in its quest to improve its agriculture and boost food production, Blueprint can authoritatively reveal.

In the abridged version of the document seen by Blueprint, the agreement, if well implemented, will address issues associated with standardization and rejection of Nigeria’s agricultural produce.

 Over the years, the country’s agricultural produce often face rejection due to their inability to meet EU criteria.

Benedict Oramah, Afreximbank President, had in December 2022, disclosed that Nigeria suffered a loss estimated at $700 million annually over rejected agro-produce.

…Priority areas

 The Samoa Agreement is based on six key priorities: human rights, democracy and governance; peace and security; human and social development; inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development; environmental sustainability and climate change; and migration and mobility.

The EU and its Member States had on 15 November 2023, signed a new partnership agreement (referred to as the ‘Samoa Agreement’) with member states of the OACPS.

 The multiple negotiation levels, the coronavirus crisis and difficulties in reaching agreement on sensitive issues, such as migration management and sexual and reproductive health and rights, prevented the new agreement from being finalised by the initial expiry date set in the Cotonou Agreement.

It took more than two years of negotiations before the text of a renewed partnership agreement was initialed in April 2021, and two more years for the EU Member States to resolve dissenting views before signing. The future agreement will be provisionally applied from January 2024, and further legal procedures will be required before it can enter fully into force, notably ratification by at least two-thirds (53) of OACPS members.

…Media reports and terms of the agreement

In the past week, reports from some sections of the media have painted the Agreement as a subtle one by the federal government to support LGBTQ.

Despite international pressure, the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2013 was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan and dated January 7, 2014.

 In the area of human and social development, covering education, health, sanitation, food security and social cohesion, the Agreement noted that the coronavirus pandemic threw-up the need for a concerted effort in the area of universal health coverage.

 “Access to sexual and reproductive health services and information will be promoted. Article 39 on cultural heritage evokes ‘measures to prevent and combat the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property,” it stated.

 A further look at the Agreement showed that under the inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development, both parties favoured the inclusion of World Trade Organisation provisions to drive trade. Just as in the environmental sustainability and climate change priority area, all the parties agreed that climate change and environmental sustainability continues to be an area of mutual concern for countries around the globe.

“This title has also been a quick win in the negotiations, as EU and ACP countries have long shared common concerns and objectives in these matters. In the negotiated agreement, the provisions on environmental sustainability and climate change span eight articles of the negotiated agreement, much more detailed than in the Cotonou Agreement – where they mostly lie in Article 32 on the environment and natural resources, and Article 32A on climate change (added in the revised version of 2010).

“In addition, the environment, sustainable management of natural resources and climate change are key areas of cooperation in all three regional protocols, which detail specific challenges, such as the preservation of marine biodiversity in the Pacific,” the documents further noted.

…Other benefits

Analysts have urged the federal government to ensure it maximizes the benefit of the agreement as it would further open up the country’s economic landscape.

 According to them, the clause on equal trade should provide an opportunity for the country to strengthen the export side of the economy as well as the development and growth of the economic.

Political economist, Adefolarin Olamilekan, told Blueprint that Nigeria may benefit from sustainable development projects in the area of agriculture and food production, an area that Sub Saharan African countries like Nigeria are lacking.

According to Adefolarin, it is an opportunity for economic managers to officially utilize it for the overall development and growth of the economy.

Also, the Agreement would benefit Nigeria’s SMEs, big and large businesses in the areas of production and standardization of products for export, at the same time facilitate import of machinery, equipment and spare parts.

He said: “Having said 13 articles are laudable articles such as article 1 that  spell out the objectives of the agreement, article 3 calls for partnership dialogue, article 4 relate to policy coherence as well as article 79 dealing with cooperation at the international organization and forum level.

“In addition, article 19 calls for the international community to fight against serious crimes, while article 36 speaks to gender equality and women and girls empowerment.

 “Overall, not to mention article 49, that places a premium on trade and sustainable development and article 51 on trade services.

“From the foregoing it the redraft Samoa Agreement as demonstrate that EU meant well for the Organized African Countries and Partner State (OACPS) especially as first Samoa agreement received heavy criticism from OACPS in 2018 when it was conceived.”

 …Maximising the agreement

Commenting further Adefolarin said:  “However, we are optimistic that the Samoa agreement has potential benefits for Nigeria’s economy, hence the Nigerian state and business community must show commitments and practical action to seize the opportunity.

“Furthermore, the government must be very involved in seeing that the agreement is domesticated and aligned to local economic and business thrust policy. For instance our trade policy must be of immense benefit to reduce our import dependency or not to be a dumping ground for all manner of European products.

“Similarly, the trade policy must support our balance of trade and strengthen our naira value as against depreciation due to excess importation.

 “Lastly, the climate change economy must have mutual benefits especially with the various products and services to adopt, mitigate and remediate through technology and technical knowhow along with local market strategy and international best practices.”

 … FG rues legal action against Daily Trust over report, others

Meanwhile, the federal government has threatened to take legal action against a media outlet-Daily Trust newspapers-over alleged fake news and misinformation in its report on Samoa agreement and other publications.

The federal government also said it would lodge a formal complaint with the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) Ombudsman against the news platform.

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, disclosed this weekend while briefing journalists in Abuja.

He accused the media house of consistently publishing unfounded stories against the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

 He said “the insidious and inciting publications by the Daily Trust these past months have come across as nothing but a deliberate effort to brush the government with a tar.”

Idris, while restating President Tinubu’s friendly policy towards free speech, said the federal government will not take fake news and disinformation that would injure the peace of the country and its national security lightly.

 He said: “The federal government under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has maintained an open arm relationship with the media. It is in line with the philosophy of the President as an avowed democrat who spent a lifetime fighting for the entrenchment of democracy and human rights.

“This administration has remained very tolerant of media criticism and guaranteed citizens’ rights to freedom of expression. It is however disheartening that some elements are abusing this free environment guaranteed by the Government. We are alarmed by the level of reckless reporting and statements by some media organisations and individuals that border on national security and stability.

“While we sometimes view and treat those occasional reporting as part of media’s normal work, we have now seen a pattern that is difficult to be wished away as normal journalism.”

 …Alleged media infractions

The insidious and inciting publications by the Daily Trust these past months have come across as nothing but a deliberate effort to brush the government with a tar. On many occasions we have restrained ourselves from believing that this was the case but the consistency of the jejune and mischievous publications leaves us with no option.

“In the aftermath of the coup in Niger Republic, Daily Trust 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. Neither Daily Trust nor originators of that imaginative allegation provided any shred of evidence.

“Then just two weeks ago, Daily Trust concocted and popularised a lie that the Federal Government had renamed the Murtala Mohammed Expressway in Abuja to Wole Soyinka Way. In all those instances all that the paper depended on were falsehood and hearsays. They also showed no remorse or the humility to recant.”

 “We however did not envisage that Daily Trust and people behind it could descend to the reckless level of attempting to set the country on fire by falsely accusing the government of signing a deal to promote LGBTQ. 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.

 “This afternoon, I have the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning to provide more clarity on this issue.

 “But beyond this, the federal government is lodging a formal complaint to the NPAN Ombudsman on this irresponsible reporting.

 “In addition, the Federal Government will use every lawful means to seek redress in the court of law,” the minister added.

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