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Multilateral relations: What Samoa agreement means and why Nigeria is stalling on signature

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The European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) –of which Nigeria is a member– recently entered into a pact known as the Samoa Agreement. 

The Samoa Agreement encapsulates the legal background for how 15 states in the EU and 79 states in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific would relate across intercontinental territories.

The origin of the agreement began in I959 with the Yaounde Agreements, which was continuously modified into its most recent Cotonou Agreement. However, the provisions of the Cotonou Agreement became obsolete and thus inconsequential in 2020, 20 years after it was first created.

However, despite the expiration of the Yaounde Agreements, the group had extended its use until October 2023. Of course, this was only before the Samoa Agreement was recently enacted.

Motives of the Samoa Agreement

The agreement highlights the aims and objectives within a legal framework the multilateral partnership hopes to achieve. They include:

  1. To foster good governance and establish democratic institutions that would safeguard human rights. 
  2. To establish peace and sustain security within the territories of its member states.
  3. Facilitating partnerships on education, health, gender, and human rights.
  4. Fostering trade, encouraging investment, and giving development grants.
  5. Ensuring cooperation on climate change, environmental protection, and policy advocacy.
  6. To end illegal migration, regulating factors linked with migration and facilitating legal migration channels.

Nigeria and the Samoa Agreement

Nigeria is an active member of the EU/OACPS partnership and, thus, a part of the Samoa Agreement, which addresses some of the country’s core national issues.

The agreement’s provisions would provide Nigeria with capital grants, human and technical expertise, and development aid. It also seeks to foster education, health, and infrastructural bilateral relations. 

Through the pact, Nigeria stands to benefit from the international markets and accruing revenue from trade across its borders. 

Nigeria would also take advantage of a level playing field in terms of its core economy and infrastructure and globally challenging issues such as climate change and security. This would be made possible via Nigeria’s cordial collaboration with the EU and other members of the OCAPS. Since Nigeria is not the only country the pact concerns, this would only make the country assert its position as the leading role model to other countries in the local region. 

Also, because Nigeria is a signatory to several other pacts before this one, the cost of implementing the Samoa agreement would not be cumbersome.

The agreement undermines Nigeria’s laws

While certain global issues have gained prominence and wide acceptance in certain geopolitical regions, they have equally met rejections from other countries. These issues transcend issues such as same-sex marriages, transgenderism, abortion, and child marriages.

While controversies continue to surround issues like child marriage in Nigeria, cases such as transgenderism have met rejection by the majority of people in the country. As such, the projection of socio-cultural development, such as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) clause inserted in the agreement, has made Nigeria stall in signing it. 

There is also the concern of inequitable trade agreements. The Nigerian government perceives it would be doing more and getting fewer turnovers from the multilateral pact. This would only affect the country’s economic and financial obligations. 

Lastly, the complicated outlook of the mode of policy implementation, as provided by the pact, could risk bureaucratic burdens for the Nigerian government and local businesses. The policy could prevent Nigeria from intervening significantly in matters connected to its national interests.

But is there a way out?

Since certain conditions in the Samoa agreement are not in tandem with Nigeria’s interest, one cannot put aside the fact that individual bilateral agreements and domestic resolutions are far more difficult and costly to implement. Moreover, the pact would afford Nigeria more benefits than it could gain within its territory. 

Also, the highlighted drawbacks could be negotiated and managed. If, in the future, the Nigerian government perceives the agreement threatens its political, economic, and socio-cultural existence, it can bow out. However, this move may not be a walk in the park.

That is why Nigeria has to adequately assess the cost-benefit of signing the agreement, dialogue, and negotiate terms that would give the nation free access to a fair market and fewer trade burdens.

However, Nigeria has to consciously adopt a national implementation strategy that would help harness the equitable benefits of the agreement while effectively managing arising risks. Only then can the Samoa agreement favour the country’s development and national well-being.

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