FEC okays Office of Trade Negotiations

Following the departure of President Buhari to the United Kingdom for medical vacation, the acting President has now reverted the commencement time of the FEC to its usual time of 10am as against 11am to which it had been shifted recently.

The meeting had in recent weeks been moved to 11am whenever ailing President Muhammadu Buhari was billed to attend ostensibly to afford enough allowance to get himself ready for it.

Meanwhile, the new ministerial nominees, Stephen Ocheni and Suleiman Hassan, approved by the Senate last week, will have to wait a little longer to become members of the council as they were not scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday.

It is not clear whether acting President Osinbajo will do that any time soon or they will have to wait till the return of President Buhari from his current medical leave.

The Senate had last week screened and confirmed the nominees as ministers, following their nominations by President Muhammadu Buhari in March.

Mr. Ocheni, who is from Kogi State is to replace James Ocholi who died in an accident last year while Hassan from Gombe State, is to replace Amina Mohammed who has joined the United Nations (UN) as its Deputy Secretary General.

 

Wednesday’s FEC meeting approved a memorandum for the establishment of the Nigerian Office of Trade Negotiations put forward by the Minister of Trade and Investments, Geoffrey Enelamah.

Briefing State correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, he explained that the office was necessary to coordinate negotiations by government agencies in the country.

He said: “Trade is something that is quite pervasive. We get involved in a lot of negotiations and a lot of MOUs assigned on trade. What we found was that, this was happening in various ministries and agencies and department with insufficient coordination and therefore consequently, it had unintended consequences and cost for us.”

“There are a number of examples of these things that have happened so the cabinet decided that it is wise to establish a coordinating central office for trade negotiations.”

“The Nigerians office for trade negotiations which will be headed by a chief negotiator of ambassadorial rank that will then work with both the economic management team and the cabinet.”

“Some of the objectives of that office will be to help us to coordinate the various trade discussions and negotiations that will hold and to achieve coherence in our policies so that our policies will pull our trade together.”

“As part of an offensive strategy of being proactive in engaging some of the discussions we are having on the continental free trade area agreement that we are negotiating or other free trade agreement that we have entered into with strategic partners all over the world.

“Then finally, it will also help us in the implementation of our economic recovery and growth plan because clearly, there is an intention to engage and work with other countries in that process.

“We also want to make sure that we have trade remedies against dumping, substandard goods and all the other things which is something that is allowed the world over.

“This office will also take responsibility to make sure that we achieve all these objectives.”

FEC also approved a new Yellow Fever vaccination card, which Minister of Health, Prof. isaac Adewole, said would soon be introduced.

He said card has advanced security features that would make it difficult to be faked.

“One of the challenges we had in the past with the current yellow card is that it could be issued by anybody and those who did not even receive the vaccination could also in fact get a card signed for them.

“With this new card, you cannot fake the yellow card. Using a card reader, we can also document your vaccination status. So, we know whether you have been genuinely vaccinated or not.”

The council also approved a memo from the Ministry of Transport for the commencement of negotiations following the submission the Outline Business Case (OBC) by General Electric (GE).

According to the minister, Rotimi Amaechi, the transaction advisors will now commence negotiations with GE to conclude concession of the railway narrow gauge which starts from Lagos to

Kano to Funtua, Kaura-Namoda and then from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, which includes Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Markudi, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe on to Maiduguri.

He said FEC also approved the consultant that will supervise the construction of Lagos-Ibadan railway.

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