President Buhari

About 24 hours after the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the country opted out of the pact because she is yet to understand the security and economic implications of the agreement.

A total of 44 nations in Kigali, the Rwandan capital,Tuesday signed the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The signing took place during the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union AU on the AfCFTA, during which Nigeria, South Africa and nine others were conspicuously absent.

The agreement was initially meant to be signed by 55 countries but only 44 signed the agreement eventually.

To this effect, the Federal Executive Council FEC, the highest policy decision making body in the country, yesterday set up a committee to review the content of the proposal for the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) and report back to it within two weeks.

Senior Special Adviser to the President on media and publicity, Femi Adesina listed membership of the committee drawn from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies MDAs to include the Federal Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Labour, Foreign Affairs and Science and Technology, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS.

According to a statement by the Presidential Spokesperson, the committee will “look into the proposals that are contained in the CFTA and they will brief the FEC within two weeks and a way forward will then be unfolded.’’

He said that the explanation was necessary because the agreement was signed in Kigali, Rwanda, yesterday but the President did not attend the AU summit.

It was however gathered that the review had become necessary to forestall the dumping of finished goods in Nigeria as it would be contrary to the country’s interest.

“President Buhari told the FEC that he would not want to agree to anything that would hinder local entrepreneurs as on the surface the agreement had the capacity to do so.

“The country is yet to understand the full economic and security implications of the agreement and so more consultations with stakeholders were necessary and this informed the setting up of the committee”, Adesina also said.

It was also gathered that the other African countries including South Africa, which were billed to sign the treaty backed out suddenly because they would not be part to any agreement that would warrant the dumping of products not needed in the country from other countries.

Chairperson of AU Commission Moussa Mahamat was handed over the legal instruments after the signing of the agreement, which will be submitted for ratification by the participating countries in accordance with their domestic laws.

Recall that President Buhari had cancelled his proposed trip to Kigali, the Rwandan Capital for the signing ceremony following suspicions that the agreement might not be in Nigeria’s economic and security interests.