The Federal Government of Nigeria has approved the ratification of Air transport agreement between Nigeria and the United States of America.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Wednesday while briefing State House reporters after the 10th virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mohammed, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said the air transport bilateral agreement is to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties between the two countries.
According to him: “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.
“So, we will now take advantage of this air transport bilateral agreement to strengthen economic, social and cultural ties between the two countries.”
National forest policy reviewed
The Minister of Environment, Mohammed Mahmoud, said the council approved a revised new National Forest Policy to replace the old one which was formulated in 2006.
Mahmoud, who said the old one failed to cater for the current situation at hand, stressed that “forestry is a big sector of the economy” as it “provides a lot of employment opportunities, reduces poverty, provides means of livelihood and foreign exchange from export of wood.”
According to him, “without sustainable forest management, you cannot have all of these benefits.”
He said: “We also know that right now particularly with the issue of climate change, the 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 vulnerable in the rural areas and 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.”
Suspension of forest products
The minister said the federal government had suspended the export of forest products because there was no “enough control under the old policy”.
He added: “Charcoal exploitation has been banned completely.
“These are some of the things that are causing the degradation of our land.
“When you lose the 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 it will go a long way in safeguarding the economy and the planet at the same time, both human capital, and physical environment.
“It’s a 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.”
Tree planting campaign
Mahmoud said despite the fact that the tree planting campaign had started “unofficially” with the planting of millions of trees, President Buhari would be urged to “symbolically flag off” national tree planting this year.
“We expect in one day, everybody will plant at least one tree.
“National tree planting is supposed to be perpetual.
“It is no longer yearly or monthly.
“This is basically what the forest policy that we have just presented is all about.
“We have it approved today.
“We thank Mr President and the council for approving the policy,” he added.
Ratification of Investment promotion agreement
Also, briefing, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, said the council ratified the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, signed in 2016 between Nigeria and Singapore on the one hand, and Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco on the other hand.
Adebayo said: “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.”