- Written by Bulama Dauda
The International Cooperation Department is charged with the responsibility of managing multilateral and bilateral economic co-operation, including development aid and technical assistance programmes. The department is divided into two divisions, namely:
- Bilateral Economic Cooperation Division; and
- Multilateral Division
BILATERAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION DIVISION (BEC)
Bilateral Economic Cooperation (BEC) division in collaboration with the other Government agencies seeks to enlarge development opportunities for the country through Bilateral Economic Cooperation with other counties. The division deals with economic and social relations with foreign counties and institutions on bilateral basis, i.e on a country or institution basis. The division is divided into five sections which are:
- Asia-Pacific/China/Vietnam/Japan-JICA/South Korea-KOICA and India;
- Joint Commission- Africa and Middle East;
- Europe and America/INGO and NGO; and
The countries under Asia and Pacific regions have bilateral agreement with the Nigerian government. These countries include Japan, China, Australia, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The assistance received from these countries through some of their institutions like Japan – JICA, South Korea – KOICA covers the following:
- Full fellowship for capacity building in almost all disciplines in the donor countries of residence;
- Technical Assistance at both the Federal and state levels of government; and
- Sectoral development including sponsoring of capital projects/programmes in the areas of education, health, power, water resources, science and technology etc both at federal and state level.
Nigeria-China bilateral economic cooperation has been in existence for long. The Government of the two nations initiates and implements programmes and projects that enhance and strengthen the existing ties, which also impact positively on the lives of the people of the two countries.
The Chinese Government runs capacity building programmes on annual basis to improve the capacity and competence of government officials across the federation. Other areas of Chinese Government interventions include education, water and sanitation, infrastructure etc.
Joint/Bilateral Commissions are a convenient legal framework for the negotiation, elaborating and implementation of instruments covering various sectors of activities for the benefit of the nationals or contracting parties. As a joint collaborative action, it is aimed at achieving rapid and sustainable socio-economic development. Nigeria has concluded a total of 400 (four hundred) Bilateral/ Joint Commission Agreements in various sectors of the economy and has Joint Commissions with eighty-five countries.
While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides the focal point for negotiation of these Instruments of Cooperation, National Planning Commission has the statutory mandate of monitoring implementation of Agreements and projects issuing from such bilateral instruments. This is usually achieved through regular inter-ministerial meetings to assess the levels of implementation of the decisions reached at Joint Commissions as well as physical monitoring of related projects to ensure that Nigeria derives maximum benefit from them. In line with its mandate the National Planning Commission has carried out a comprehensive/ critical review of the Bilateral Bi-national Joint Commission.
EUROPE AND AMERICA
This unit is responsible for bilateral activities with Europe and America region. Currently Nigeria has bilateral economic cooperation with some countries from these regions through different programmes/projects implemented in different locations of Nigeria. The list of bilateral donors from this region is stated below:
- Agence Français de Development (AFD)
- German International Cooperation (GIZ)
- Department for International Development (DFID)
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
- Non-Governmental Organization (INGOs and NGOs)
The Bilateral Economic Cooperation division of the department manages development aid and technical assistance programme from Non-Governmental Organization (International and Local) from European, Asian and American countries. The division also registers, coordinates and monitors the activities of all International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO) and Local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in the country.
ASSISTANCE TO AFRICAN COUNTRIES
The division also coordinates Nigeria's economic assistance to sister African countries such as Togo, Liberia, Guinea and Niger through Joint Commissions.
The division comprises of three units, which are:
- the United Nations Development System (UNDS);
- European Union;
- Commonwealth Desk; and United Nation Development System (UNDS)
The United Nation Development System (UNDS) Unit relates and collaborates with the United Nations Development Systems which comprise of the Excom agencies. The Excom agencies include UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA and other UN agencies. United Nations Development Assistance Framework II (UNDAF II) 2009 – 2012 which is an instrument of programme implementation for the country was developed in conjunction with the UN agencies. The programme objectives is aimed at alleviating poverty in Nigeria by supporting programmes and projects that promote good governance and accountability, productivity, social service delivery and reduction of risk and conflict in Niger Delta. The programme components include:
Capacity for Governance; Private Sector Development; Sustainability and Development; Development Assistance Data Base (DAD) Programmes
Reproductive Health and Rights; Population and Development; and Gender Equality.
Health and Nutrition; Basic Education; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; HIV/AIDS; Child Protection; and Social Policy, Advocacy and Communication Programmes
EUROPEAN UNION (EU) UNIT
The European Union (EU) Unit is responsible for coordination of all EU supported Programmes/Projects in Nigeria. The Unit is responsible for the administration of EU projects, as well as monitoring of EU Programmes in Nigeria. The source of funding is the European Development Fund (EDF). The EU adopted two approaches namely programming study and quick start package to implement its programmes and projects in Nigeria. Nigeria and EU has produced the Country Strategy document and the National Indicative Programme (NIP). The focal sectors include:
- Peace and Security;
- Governance and Human Rights;
- Trade and Regional Integration; and
- Special Projects and Programmes Contribution to Non-focal Areas
The Commonwealth Desk liaises with the Commonwealth Secretariat and coordinates the technical cooperation activities of the commonwealth. Nigeria as a member of the commonwealth benefits from her statutory contribution to the funds of the commonwealth especially the commonwealth fund for technical cooperation (CFTC).