By Ossom Raphael
Abuja – Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice says there is need to focus on the non-oil sector to boost export and drive economic growth.
Theminister made the call at the just concluded National Conference on creating Legal and Institutional Frameworks for Geographical Indications in Nigeria.
The AGF who was represented by Barr Ifunanya Nwajagu, Director, Legal Drafting at the Federal Ministry of Justice said that focusing on Geographic Indications will serve as a further panacea for poverty reduction, community development and social inclusiveness.
Malami said: “The time has come to move away from oil economy. Surely, the time has come to embrace green economy through economic drive powered by geographical indications for which Nigeria is richly endowed in quality assets and products.
“Needless to state clearly that Geographical Indications represent economic opportunities in rural areas, leading to more rural jobs and stronger rural communities.
“The right to use a geographical name belongs to the community of producers in a given area and empowers those who are involved in the origin of so many wonderful products thereby making Geographic Indications the perfect tool for local development”.
On the relevance of Legal framework to back GIs, Mr. Malami said: “It is worthy of mention that we currently have varieties of unique agricultural and natural products that qualify as geographical indications such as “sokoto goats’ skin”, “Ijebu garri”, “skin hide of Kano”, “Kilishi”, “Yaji” (dry pepper), “Ose Nsukka” (Yellow pepper), “Aso Oke, “Adire”, “Ofada Rice”, “fura” and many more. Yet, none of these have benefitted from any comprehensive registration, international recognition and commercialization.
“Therefore, for Nigeria to avail itself of the opportunities in and benefits of its Geographic Indications, our efforts must begin at home, with the establishment of an appropriate legal framework, supported by robust efforts to promote the Geographic Indications in formalizing the traditional knowledge and techniques employed by originating geographic regions, standardizing methods of production, and actively driving recognition for Geographic Indications in international trade.
“To be or not to be, depends on a carefully grafted legal and institutional frameworks that meets the needs of today while guaranteeing the future and bearing in mind, global and continental trends in the fields of geographical indications.
“The legal framework will set out the roles and procedures for the actualization of the benefits of geographical indications so that they shall be recognized and protected locally in order to be recognized internationally too. The establishment of a legal framework for the Gls in Nigeria is very imperative, likewise the ratification and domestication of the relevant international treaties/ conventions and protocols,”
The Justice minister further said that the ministry is poised to lend its support and collaboration with the stakeholders towards the birthing of a reliable legal instrument.
“The Federal Ministry of Justice is aware of treaties and conventions to which Nigeria is a party including the recent African Continental Free Trade Agreement and the need to provide legislation that promotes trade and investment while meeting the needs of the people.
“The Federal Ministry of Justice awaits the drafting instructions from the organizers of this conference, as a team of drafters are available to review the Bill in line with our current precedent for Executive Bill for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council,” he said.
Speaking as a panelist, Mr. Aminu Waklek, Senior Assistant Registrar, Trade Marks Registry, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment says consensus is key to arrive at quality of products as well as determining who is qualified to be a member of the Patent rights Association.
He said there must be cohesion among the different patent right groups in order to promote export of their products.
In her submissions, Prof. Adejoke Oyewunmi, a Professor of intellectual property at the University of Lagos said the functions of the GIs must be clearly stated on the Draft law for GIs even as she called for collaborations between Nigeria and other countries especially with the coming of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement to promote Geographical Indications in Nigeri
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