Bilateral relations between Jamaica and the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be further strengthened with the staging of the fourth session of the Jamaica-Nigeria Joint Commission later this year in Nigeria.
The Joint Commission governs the framework for cooperation between the two countries.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Esmond Reid, told JIS News that the meeting, which should have been held in May or June, could be staged later in the year.
“Every effort will be made to hold the meeting at the earliest opportunity,” Mr. Reid said.
The High Commissioner pointed out that the event was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He added that the previous three meetings were hosted in Jamaica.
“Obviously, we have to rethink that now and see where the opportunity might arise for that meeting later this year,” he said.
The Commissioner said that the two countries have had economic cooperation agreements in the past, noting that the air services agreement to improve air linkages between the two countries is still under negotiation.
“We have made quite a lot of progress, but there are still some of the finer details to be concluded, so that would be one of the agreements for discussion in the meeting of the Joint Commission,” he said.
According to Mr. Reid, the meeting will also consider agreements in the areas of trade, education and culture.
“We have cooperated in the past in terms of energy services. We had a crude oil agreement, which has been suspended. Obviously, we would want to re-examine the scope for reviving that, and as relations expand, we will see where the scope lies for introducing other agreements,” he said.
Apart from the Joint Commission, the career diplomat said there are plans to commemorate the 50 years of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Nigeria. The two countries established diplomatic ties on April 29, 1970.
He said that the High Commission has developed a “fairly extensive programme” of activities for the anniversary celebrations, but a few events had to be postponed due to the coronavirus.
To mark the occasion, Commissioner Reid said that a small ceremony was held at the Federal Foreign Ministry, Abuja, Nigeria, which involved the handover of congratulatory letters written by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith; and Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama.
“We had the media there and staff from the Foreign Ministry as well. We were also fortunate to have the Nigerian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Her Excellency Janet Olisa, who was delayed in the country because of restrictions on travel… so it was fortuitous to have her participating in that ceremonial exchange of letters,” he added.
The High Commission had also made plans for other celebratory activities, including a culinary exhibition, a public lecture on Jamaica/Nigeria relations and a fashion show depicting the work of Nigerian and Jamaican designers.
“We are very anxious to get the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, so that we can regain the momentum that we had in strengthening the cooperation framework,” he added.