Nigeria High Commissioner decries poor attendance of FG agencies at Singapore forum
She said the attitude was disgraceful.
Rajis-Okpara made the comment in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Singapore.
She said that the essence of the forum was to deepen the Nigeria-Singapore bilateral relations and to sensitise the Singaporean government and private sector to the great opportunity that in the African largest market Nigeria.
Rajis-Okpara said that over 250 participants from government agencies indicated interest to attend the business forum, adding that majority did not show up and never sent representatives.
She said that some that indicated and sent list of delegation did not show up and never sent a letter of not attending the forum.
She added that following this, over 50 rooms that had been booked were cancelled 24 hours to the business forum.
The commissioner said that the essence of the forum was also to sign the three bilateral agreements that Nigeria had been pursuing over 15 years.
“ This forum was meant for signing of three bilateral agreements that we have been pursuing; these agreements have been dormant and abandoned; one of them for 15 years, 12 and 10 years.
“And for the last three years I came in on board, Singapore government requested that if Nigeria must move its trade relation to next level, that it was necessary for these agreements to be signed.
“Two out of the three agreements had finished the last negotiation and the third one, which is the DTA, that is the avoidance of double taxation is waiting because there is no minister in place in Nigeria including the Investment Guarantee Agreements (IGA) that was also waiting,’’ Rajis-Okpara said.
She said that the Bilateral Agreement on Safety Act (BASA) was supposed to have been signed through her office to the Singapore government because it had already been concluded by the former Minister of Aviation.
Rajis-Okpara said at the last minute, the Nigeria government decided not to sign.
She said that 24 hours to the business forum, the Permanent Secretary of aviation ministry decided not to attend the forum.
“That is not the best image for Nigeria.
“ I think that whatever was responsible did not make any common sense because people have decided to put their selfish desires above national interest.
` I believe that if the Permanent Secretary and those involved that are supposed to be the ambassador of Nigeria’s foreign direct investments are not doing so in the areas of signing up of these agreements, then it is disgraceful.
“So anybody who feels that there is something more important after how many years we have pursued these agreements and thinks they were too busy to be at the forum is real.
“The important thing I must say to Nigerians and Singaporeans is that I made a promise to this my great nation that in my time BASA, DTA and IGA will be concluded and I am happy to say that I have pursued it to a logical conclusion.
“If the Nigerian government wants to come and sign, it is up to them but I as a representative of Nigeria, have done my beat and the Singaporeans are witnesses to that.
“Whatever they want to do with their bilateral relation with Singapore is up to the government.’’
Rajis-Okpara said that the Ministry of Trade and Investment that was supposed to be partner at the forum stepped down participation without communicating to the Nigerian Embassy at the last minute.
She said that the Ministry of Trade and Investment owed Nigerians an explanation why it did not attend the forum.
She said that the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Ministry of Information, Nigeria Television Authority, among others, did not show up and were not represented at the forum.
“ I want to say that the private sector was well represented; the governors and other government agencies like Customs and Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board were well represented.