The Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council, has thrown its weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to consult widely before Nigeria would append signature to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFA). President Buhari had in March cancelled a trip to Kigali, Rwanda, where he was expected to append his signature to the CFA during an extra-ordinary summit of African Union. The Presidency had also explained that the cancellation was to enable for more consultations with stakeholders in Nigeria over the trade agreement aimed to promote commerce among African countries.
Stakeholders, including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the organized private sector, had raised worry over the implications of the agreement for the Nigerian economy. NLC and other groups insisted that the federal government ought to have consulted widely on the matter before planning to sign the agreement. NLC president, Ayuba Wabba had declared that “we at the Nigeria Labour Congress are shocked by the sheer impunity or blatant lack of consultation in the process that has led to this. We are more worried by the probable outcome of this policy initiative if it is given life because of its crippling effect on the local businesses and attendant effects on jobs.
“We have no doubt this policy initiative will spell the death knell of the Nigerian economy. Accordingly, we urge Mr President not to sign this agreement either in or anywhere. We believe our national interest is at stake and nothing should be done to compromise this.” The Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had on March 14 approved that Nigeria should sign the agreement with fellow African countries meant to promote commerce among African countries. However, the Industrial Council at its meeting last Friday presided over by Osinbajo, received a status report on the Continental Trade Agreement and backed the need for more consultations before Nigeria would ratify the agreement