Leadership | 9 August 2020
Nigeria begins reforms of international investment agreements
By Kingsley Alu Abuja
The Federal Government of Nigeria is undertaking series of reforms of the country’s Bilateral International Treaties (BIT) to attract responsible, inclusive, balanced and sustainable investments.
Government said the move would involve the development of a new model BIT, modernising existing stock of old generation treaties and enabling the government put in place a coherent legal framework at all levels.
Director, Legal Department, Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Patience Okala, disclosed these on Thursday during a Webinar held by the management team with journalists.
The management team was led by the executive secretary, NIPC, Yewande Sadiku.
She said efforts of the NIPC to review as well as validate bilateral investment treaties entered by Nigeria with several other countries were to ensure that the country harvested maximum investment benefits from such bilateral trade deals.
In carrying out the review, Okala said it would be done in a manner that complies with global standards on labour, human rights, environment, corporate social responsibilities.
According to her, the review would also focus on inclusive approach that would mobilise investments and create jobs while balancing investors’ rights with obligations,emphasizing that the move would also promote sustainable development objectives that aligns with agenda 2030 of the United Nations.
Okala noted that the bilateral agreement treaties that would be reviewed would cover those signed between 1990 and 2001 fiscal periods.
“It is instructive that some of these agreements did come into force until 2010 which is about ten years later,” she stated , adding that the review of some of these agreements would help the government avoid litigation such as the one involving P&ID, where the company had dragged Nigeria to court for alleged breach of contract.
“A panel of three arbitrators had voted 2-1 to award the company the full sum of its claim of $6.6billion, including interest totalling $9.6billion.
“The country in 2010 under former President Goodluck Jonathan, had signed the gas processing project, but in 2012, the company began an arbitration process, alleging breach of contract,” she added.
Okala explained that the bilateral agreement review being done by NIPC would help to introduce mediation and dispute mechanisms.
She also said it would provide safeguards to Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions.
Executive secretary, NIPC Yewande Sadiku, in her remarks at the meeting said that the coronavirus pandemic has opened an opportunity for investors in the country.
She argued that while the impact has made it imperative for very aggressive investment promotion by Nigeria as competition for capital has increased across the world, the best way to proactively position in Nigeria is to sell the country on a sector by sector basis based on specific investments that cut across various areas.
According to her, the NIPC is currently having a number of engagements with its partners to boost the level of investment inflow into the country.
“We are having partnership with states and we are also improving the efforts at promoting investments at the state level,” she said.
She further explained that with prediction from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about the country doing into its worst recession in 40 years, it had become compelling to become more creative in attracting investments.