The Inaugural meeting of the Nigeria-Canada Bi-National Commission (BNC) took place on October 8, 2012 in Abuja, Nigeria. The meeting was co-chaired by the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru and the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. John Baird, who had signed the BNC Framework Agreement in April 2012 in Ottawa.
The Canadian delegation included officials from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) and the High Commission of Canada in Abuja. The Nigerian delegation included officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of the National Security Adviser and the Ministry of Trade and Investment, and other relevant agencies.
Both countries pledged that the BNC will be the basis for constructing a lasting strategic partnership between the two federal, multicultural democracies.
Both countries reaffirmed the underlying principles of the BNC, reflecting shared respect for human rights and democracy. The two countries recognised that effective political, economic, security, and development collaboration contributes to building a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria committed to promoting human rights for all, good governance, and democratic development. They also restated that they would work together on common regional and global challenges, including counter-terrorism, the Mali crisis, the Middle East, and Commonwealth reform.
While recognizing that lasting security demands a multi-level approach including development, education, democracy and human rights, both countries resolved to enhance the operational capabilities of the Nigeria security services to enable them respond adequately to internal and regional security challenges.
Welcoming the rapid growth in trade and investment between them, the two countries committed to aim for the reduction and elimination of barriers to increased economic and commercial relations. To this end, both countries will initiate discussions and negotiations on such agreements as may be necessary, particularly a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Recognizing the importance of power, mining, aviation, education (including skills training to address youth unemployment) to national development and poverty education, both countries reaffirmed their commitment to support and facilitate foreign investment in these areas. Both countries also welcomed the rapidly growing private sector interest in trade and investment, including the recent establishment of the Canada-Nigeria Business Association, and the increasing involvement of the Canadian-Nigerian diaspora. The two countries also pledged to encourage new links between institutions at federal and state/provincial level, and the expansion of people-to-people ties.
The two countries resolved to support programmes enhancing human development and social freedom, including free and fair elections through building capacity of electoral institutions. Canada will continue to work with Nigeria in improving health care, especially maternal and child health. Both countries expressed satisfaction with progress made during the September 2012 visit of Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation, the Hon. Julian Fantino.
Finally, the two Governments agreed to follow up on these commitments and seek further collaboration to address the challenges identified. Both countries agreed that the next ministerial-level meeting of the BNC will be in early 2013 in Nigeria when the trade ministers will meet, and that the next meeting of the Bi-National Commission at foreign minister level will take place in Canada later in 2013.
Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru
Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federal Republic of Nigeria
Mr. John Baird
Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada
(Note: text obtained from the Nigerian Foreign Affairs site)