The Inaugural Session of the Nigeria-Liberia Joint Commission has ended in Abuja with the signing of five agreements for cooperation between the two countries.
Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan signed the Joint Communiqué on behalf of Liberia while Nigeria’s Minister of State II Nuruddeen Muhammad singed on behalf of the Federal Government at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
According to a Foreign Ministry dispatch from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the inaugural session laid the basis for enhanced economic and social development of the two countries and peoples and the promotion of regional security and development.
Liberia and Nigeria signed agreements for cooperation in Education, Culture, Bilateral Trade and Training of Liberian Foreign Service Officers. The two countries also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Mining and Geology.
One of the significant features of the agreements signed is that Nigeria has committed to grant a soon to be agreed number of scholarships to Liberian diplomats to pursue an 18-month Masters in International Relations and Strategic Studies (MISS) programme at the University of Lagos.
While pursuing their masters’ degree, Liberian beneficiaries of the Nigerian scholarships would also take courses at the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy.
Speaking ahead of the signing ceremony, Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan gave special recognition to experts from both countries that worked behind the scenes to make the signing of the agreements a reality.
Minister Ngafuan sees the signing of the Joint Communiqué as a giant step forward in consolidating Liberia/Nigeria relations. “We at Foreign Affairs are the diplomats and have done our part by enhancing the relationship; we are now expecting implementation which means our sector ministries and experts would coordinate more through direct communication and follow ups on issues of mutual concern as it relates to the successful implementation of the various agreements”, the Liberian Foreign Minister remarked.
He said if the ministries and sectors in both countries forge closer partnerships it will ensure success while the Foreign Ministry in both countries will be continue to nudge their respective ministries and agencies in taking the concrete steps that would ensure the achievement of the objectives laid down in the agreements.
Foreign Minister Ngafuan also wants both governments to work on strengthening the ties between the private sectors of their respective countries. He spoke of the huge investment potential in Liberia and urged the Nigerian private sector to take advantage of what he called “the first mover advantages”.
Minister Ngafuan thinks it will be more win-win if a private sector actor from a West African country like Nigeria would invest more significantly in Liberia in various sectors as Liberian entrepreneurs also look to doing similarly in Nigeria.
For his part, the Minister of State II for Foreign Affairs of the Nigerian Government Nurudeen Muhammad said he was overwhelmed with joy that the Joint Commission Meeting that has been in the pipe line for over two decades could be finally held with the signing of several agreements.
He described Tuesday, July 15, 2014 as a day of history making for both Liberia and Nigeria.”It is my hope that the five documents we are about to sign today that includes agreements and memorandum of understandings will open a new vista in improving our bilateral relationship”, the Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs stated.
Dr. Muhammad is hoping the signing of the agreements will broaden and deepened Liberia/Nigeria relations and explore possibilities of future cooperation. He commended Minister Ngafuan and the Liberian delegation for what he described as productive two days and looked forward to the next joint commission meeting in Monrovia which he anticipates would take place in less than a year.
The Foreign Ministry dispatch said both countries deliberated on education related matters and accordingly signed an agreement that will further concretize the already good collaboration of the two countries in the sector. Nigeria agreed to continue the Technical Assistance Cooperation (TAC) Scheme wherein Nigeria regular fields Nigerian teachers to render critically needed services in the Liberian school system.
An agreement that will facilitate the training of Liberian Foreign Officers in the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy was also signed during the Joint Commission meeting in Abuja with both countries also agreeing to reinforce the subsisting agreement on the Technical Aid Corps Scheme.
The Session recognized trade as an essential and indispensable component in the deepening and broadening of relations between Nigeria and Liberia and resolved to facilitate trade and commerce by removing all impediments that militate against free trade including putting in place measures and structures that would enhance commerce and people to people contact.
The release said guided by the desire to enhance relations in the Cultural sector and recognizing the importance of promoting cultural values in both countries, Nigeria and Liberia signed an Agreement on Cultural Cooperation that will promote cooperation between the public and private cultural institutions in both countries.
Mindful of the enormous opportunities that abound in the mining sectors of both countries and the comparative advantage of Liberia in the sector, both countries agreed to explore ways of making positive intervention in the sector through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Mining and Geology.
Meanwhile, the two countries agreed on further consultations on the MOUs on Immigration, Drugs, Science and Technology, Agriculture and Sustainable Development, Health and Medical Sciences as well as Transport and Civil Aviation.
The Foreign Ministry release disclosed both sides are expected to give due attention to the two MOUs on the areas stated for signing as soon as possible.