The presidency, yesterday, said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the concerns of Nigerians was responsible for his cancellation of an official trip to Kigali, the Rwandan capital. The President was scheduled to travel to Rwanda where he was expected to append his signature to the framework agreement for the establishment of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Buhari was to participate in last Wednesday’s Extraordinary Meeting of African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had on Wednesday approved that Nigeria should sign the AfCETA during the Kigali meeting despite opposition from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). The first set of his delegation had already arrived the East African country while the second set was recalled from Lagos on Saturday, where they had been scheduled to fly to Kigali.
A senior aide to the President, who preferred anonymity, told our correspondent that the decision to cancel the Rwandan trip was part of the President’s commitment to listening to public concerns.He said: “The President is listening to public opinions. He doesn’t want to be insensitive to the people’s wish.
“That is why he has withdrawn his signature to the document to allow for wider consultations,” he stressed. While briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of FEC presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, had justified Buhari’s signing of the agreement, saying that there were benefits to derive from endorsing the agreement.
The minister also disclosed that Nigeria was bidding to host the headquarters/ secretariat of the AfCFTA. The Presidency had also issued a statement on the benefits of the agreement, saying that Nigeria stands to benefit from expanded market access for its exporters of goods and services; it will spur growth and boost job creation.