A treaty is an agreement under international law entered into by participants in international law, usually sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an (international) agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, pact, or exchange of letters, among other terms.
Nigeria is a signatory to about 400 protocols and conventions according to Dayo Bush-Alebiosu, a former lawmaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and former Chairman, House Committee on Treaties and Bilateral Agreements. However, Nigeria is not reaping the full benefits of these protocols and conventions and here is why.
By virtue of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, upon signing a treaty, it does not become law in Nigeria until domesticated. The provision can be found in Section 12 of the Constitution. It provides in sub-section 1 that –
“No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly”.
Some of these treaties offer business and investment opportunities for Nigerians and the Nation; however, due to the lack of knowledge about these treaties, we are being short paid even though our country is a signatory to these treaties. However, who takes home the blame for these lapses? Nigerians don’t know.
While the Constitution states that it’s the role of the National Assembly to domesticate treaties, the Assembly itself does not have the full list of treaties entered into by Nigeria and neither has the Executive begun the process of domestication as stated by the Honourable Bush. A classic example of a treaty that Nigeria is a signatory to is the Bilateral Air Service Agreement between Nigeria and several countries. Others are the - Extradition Treaty between Nigeria and South Africa signed in 2005; The International Convention for the safety of Life at Sea signed in 2004 and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage signed by Nigeria in 2006.
It is mandatory that as a country, we are able to identify all treaties and protocols that Nigeria is a signatory to and domesticate those that will benefit Nigeria. As not all these treaties may be beneficial to Nigeria in the long run or in the face of current world and economic realities. I humbly use this opportunity to urge the Executive and government of President Buhari to work with the National Assembly to help domesticate all our treaties.
Adedunmade Onibokun Esq,