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FEC approves air transport agreement for Nigeria, US

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The Federal Executive Council FEC has approved the ratification of an air transport agreement between Nigeria and the United States of America (USA).

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House Correspondents on Wednesday after the 10th virtual FEC meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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Alhaji Mohammed, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, explained that the bilateral air transport agreement is to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties between Nigeria and the USA.

“The Aviation Minister presented a memo today (Wednesday) on the approval for ratification of the air transport agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the United States of America.

“The minister sought council’s approval for ratification of the air transport agreement between USA and Nigeria.

“You will recall that both United States and Nigeria are parties to the Chicago Convention on the 7th of December, 1994. Article 6 of the convention actually urges parties to sign air services agreement with member states to improve social, political and economic ties.

“The US has ratified its own and Mr President and council graciously accepted today to also ratify this agreement. So, today, Mr President signed valid agreement of Air transport service between Nigeria and the US with the attendant benefits for both countries, especially as Nigeria is working towards having its own full national airline.

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“So, we will now take advantage of this air transport bilateral agreement to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties between the two countries,” he said.

Also briefing after the FEC, the Minister of Environment, Alhaji Mohammed Mahmoud, said the Council approved a new National Forest Policy to protect the nation’s forests and create more jobs.

According to him, the new policy would be a revision of the one that was formulated in 2006, adding that with the issue of climate change, the nation needs to take reforestation more seriously to mitigate the harsh effects of climate change.

“The new National Forest Policy is a revised policy. The old one was formulated in 2006. Why the new one? We realized that the old one is not catering for the current situation at hand. Forestry is a big sector of the economy. It provides a lot of employment opportunities, reduces poverty, provides means of livelihood and foreign exchange from export of wood.

“Without a sustainable forest management, you cannot have all of these benefits.

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“We also know that right now particularly with the issue of climate change, forest is a big part of climate change mitigation. The more forest we have, the more cover we seek. It means taking out the emission out of our planet and stabilizing the temperature of the planet and the catastrophic effects of climate change.

“So, we have revised it and produced a new one. And we believe this will go a long way in regenerating employment which is an issue at hand. Youth and women are the vulnerable in the rural areas; they usually bear the brunt of this issue of deforestation. The more we populate our forest with trees, the better for the people not just in the rural areas but even the economy.

“Currently, we have suspended export of forest products because we do not have enough control under the old policy. So, we have suspended that. Charcoal exploitation has been banned completely. These are some of the things that are causing degradation of our land.

“When you lose forest, it’s not just forest that you are losing; you are also losing the land because the land will be eroded. It may not support agriculture, thereby foodstuff becomes very expensive. The people around that forest area become unemployed. Poverty will increase in the long-run.

“This is a policy that we feel will go a long way in safeguarding the economy and the planet at the same time, both human capital, and physical environment. It’s collaboration between federal government, state government, local government, non-governmental organization, CBOs, the private sector, and international organizations. This is something that all hands must be on deck,” he said.

The FEC also approved a memo urging President Muhammadu Buhari to ratify the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement aimed at granting more protection to Nigerian investors.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, while speaking at the briefing, explained that the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement would protect Nigerian investors when they invest abroad and to give Nigeria more protection when other investors come into the country.

“The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment presented a memo to Council today, seeking Council’s approval for Mr. President to ratify the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, which we signed in 2016 between Nigeria and Singapore on the one hand, and Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco on the other hand.

“In 2016, the Attorney-General of the Federation came up with a new model of Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and that year Nigeria signed based on that new model between Nigeria and Morocco, and Nigeria and Singapore.

“The whole idea was to grant more protection to Nigerian investors, when they invest abroad and to give Nigeria more protection when other investors come into Nigeria.

“Basically, those were what we were in FEC for and the Council graciously approved that Mr President should ratify and the Attorney-General will present to Mr. President for his ratification and the agreement will come into effect thereafter,” he said.

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