Controversy Trails FG’s $150bn Samoa Agreement, Ministers Deny LGBT Provision

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Controversy has enveloped a $150bn Samoa trade deal signed by the Federal Government of Nigeria with the European Union.

Last November, the European Union, its 27 member states and 79 member states of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) signed an agreement in Apia, the capital of the Pacific island country of Samoa. Hence, it was referred to as the ‘Samoa Agreement’.

With the new agreement which succeeded the Cotonou Agreement, the parties are expected to be better equipped to address emerging needs and global challenges, such as climate change, ocean governance, migration, health, peace and security.

Nigeria signed the agreement on June 28, 2024, but it became public knowledge this week after a disclosure by the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu.

Controversy

The disclosure about the Samoa deal sparked a barrage of reactions online with many opposing what they believed was a recognition of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights, which is contrary to the laws of the land. In 2014, then President Goodluck Jonathan assented to a bill outlawing same-sex marriages and gay relationships, making LGBT unacceptable and unlawful in Nigeria.

A former lawmaker Shehu Sani, in a post on X, said, “African states should not accept loans or grants from any country, group of countries or international institutions that came with demonic conditions antithetical to our culture, religious faiths and values. All African countries including Nigeria who appended their signatures should go back and ‘unsign’ the Samoa agreement.

An official of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Abubakar Akande, also reportedly opposed same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, stating that the agreement goes against the country’s moral and religious values.

On its part, the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) called on the Federal Government to withdraw from the controversial agreement saying, “This treacherous move is a betrayal of the Nigerian people’s trust and values, and we demand that the government immediately withdraw from this agreement.”

A Facebook user Muhammad Yaqub also said, “History will have it that the LGBT Samoa agreement was signed under the Muslim-Muslim administration.”

Consistent With Laws — Minister

Amid the raging reactions, Bagudu’s spokesman Bolaji Adebiyi said, “The documents signed by the Federal Government, were strictly for the economic development of Nigeria, nowhere in the documents were LGBT or same-sex marriage mentioned even remotely, and it would be wrong for anyone to imply that Nigeria had accepted those tendencies. What Bagudu signed was about a $150 billion trade component.”

 

 

Also, presidential spokesman Bayo Onanuga in a Thursday post on X faulted the notion that the deal had elements supporting LGBT rights, contrary to the laws of the land.

mohammed-idris
The Minister of Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris

Also, Information Minister Mohammed Idris in a statement on Thursday said Nigeria signed the Samoa Agreement in the best interest of the country after extensive reviews and consultations.

He said, “It was ensured that none of the 103 Articles and Provisions of the Agreement contravenes the 1999 Constitution as amended or laws of Nigeria and other extant Laws.

“In addition, Nigeria’s endorsement was accompanied by a Statement of Declaration, dated 26th June 2024, clarifying its understanding and context of the Agreement within its jurisdiction to the effect that any provision that is inconsistent with the laws of Nigeria shall be invalid.

“It is instructive to note that there is an existing legislation against same-sex relationships in Nigeria enacted in 2014.

“It is necessary to assure Nigerians that the President Bola Tinubu Administration, being a rule-based government will not enter into any international agreement that will be detrimental to the interest of the country and its citizens.”

 

 

A Mix-Up?

In a review of the Samoa Agreement after it was signed last November, the European Parliament observed that the initial draft agreement contained the LGBT provision but noted that member states “were reluctant to see the foundation agreement mention sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBTI rights)”.

Parties, however, reached a compromise to commit only to the implementation of existing international agreements on the matter.

Subsequently, LGBT rights were expunged from the final agreement and replaced with “gender equality”. Specifically, Article 2, clause 5 of the final agreement stated that “the parties shall systematically promote a gender perspective and ensure that gender equality is mainstreamed across all policies”.

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