Joint Communique on the occasion of  the Fourth Meeting of the Nigeria-Canada Bi-National Commission

The fourth meeting of the Nigeria-Canada Bi-National Commission took place on December 11, 2015 in Ottawa, Canada. The meeting was co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Ambassador Bulus Lolo, and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Mr. Daniel Jean.

As both Nigeria and Canada experienced a change of government following elections in 2015 this meeting provided an opportunity to discuss a roadmap aligned with the strategic objectives of the two countries.

Nigeria welcomed Canada’s support in the success of its elections and expressed the desire for continued collaboration on this issue.

Considering that security and prosperity are inextricably linked, the two delegations agreed that effective diplomatic, economic, security and development cooperation between them would contribute to building and consolidating peaceful and prosperous societies. The delegations committed themselves to promoting human rights, inclusive and accountable governance, peaceful pluralism and respect for diversity. The delegations restated their commitment to work together to address national, regional and global challenges, including terrorism, extremism, climate change, development, and humanitarian crises.

Deputy Minister Daniel Jean conveyed Canada’s condolences for the loss of life and the suffering experienced by Nigerians at the hands of terrorists and commended the Nigerian government’s commitment to restore security while upholding fundamental rights throughout the country.

Welcoming the growth in bilateral economic ties in recent years, Nigeria and Canada agreed to further promote trade and investment, with a particular focus on renewable energy, oil and gas, information technologies, agriculture and mining. The interaction with private sector preceding the Bi-national commission meeting was valuable and productive and should continue as a means of promotion of trade and investment.

The delegations also noted with satisfaction the efforts being made by both countries to enhance human and social development, including the social protection and empowerment of girls and young women as well as global efforts to put an end to child marriage.

Canada welcomed Nigeria’s commitment to fight corruption. In this regard, Nigeria requested Canada to assist and cooperate, as necessary, in tracing and recovery of funds and assets acquired through corrupt means.

Canada welcomes a large and growing number of Nigerian students currently pursuing their studies in Canada. The two delegations agreed on the importance of skilled work forces to achieve sustainable economic development. The annual Canada Education Fair will be held in Abuja and Lagos in February 2016 and will provide an opportunity for Nigerian students to learn about opportunities for study in Canada.

The two countries also expressed satisfaction in their collaborative efforts to improve maternal, newborn and child health through strengthening health systems and reducing the burden of diseases. This includes supporting Nigeria to achieve polio-free status in 2017, following the World Health Organization’s recent removal of Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries.

Nigeria stressed the need for Canada to avail Nigerian nationals awaiting removals of appropriate time and legal options to ensure a seamless and harmless deportation. Both sides agreed on exploring the possibility of a memorandum of understanding on the return and re-admission of people out-of-status.

While noting the challenges faced by Nigerian students in acquiring Canadian visa especially the non-refund of tuition fees upon refusal, the Canadian authorities promised to address the concerns through a revised visa application process for students which is to commence in January, 2016. The process is expected to reduce the processing time of visa and improve client services for Nigerian nationals, in line with Canadian legislation and departmental standards.

Both sides shared information regarding the challenges associated with assessing temporary resident applications submitted by visitors, officials, business persons, and students and with obtaining final decisions in a consistently timely fashion. Models on which both countries could build were discussed and noted. Both sides will evaluate them in light of their respective government priorities, legislation, and policies.

Both sides agreed to share information on existing policies and programs, as well as the necessary solutions.

The two delegations further agreed that Nigeria and Canada will remain in regular contact over the year ahead in Ottawa and Abuja to monitor progress in the areas referred to in this Joint Communique and to work together to overcome any obstacles that may be encountered.

Finally, Nigeria and Canada agreed that the next meeting of the Bi-national commission should be held in Nigeria before the end of 2016.