- Says it isn’t OPS Decision
- Urges Govt to calculate the cost on NIRP, ERGP
By Franklin Ocheneyi & Gilbert Ekugbe
“I think it is unfair for any private sector organisation to play on the intelligence of Nigerians and to try to confuse government by diluting the resolute position that the Organised Private Sector (OPS) in Nigeria has taken on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
We are five of us in the OPS Nigeria (MAN, NECA, NASME, NASSI and NACCIMA) and one of us is taking a unilateral decision to advise government to sign it. This is unfortunate and it is not in line with the agreement that established OPS many years ago.”
That’s how Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director –General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), reacted to the recent calls by Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) urging the Federal Government to sign the AfCFTA so as the make the country competitive.
However, fielding questions from journalists at a press briefing on Matters Arising On The AfCFTA , yesterday in Lagos, Ajayi-Kadir said: “We had a committee within NACCIMA that review some policies but up till now I am at a loss as to what document they looked at that informed their decision to advise Government to sign it. At that meeting, from my recollection, NACCIMA never came forward to say that they are in support of fore- signing the AfCFTA straight away.
Trade Is War, Not Friendly
“Mind you, MAN is not saying that government should not sign it at all and forever. What we are saying is that as we speak today there is no objective basis for asking the President to sign. And so, for NACCIMA asking government to go and sign, they didn’t say they are satisfied with the Rules of Origin, because as we speak, it doesn’t exist. They are not saying the market access is okay for Nigeria, the contravening measures, and disputes settlement mechanism, non-tariff and technical barriers provisions, among other protocols and annexure. So, why do you sign up-front, why the haste?” he said.
He urged the government to exercise restraint in signing the agreement for now until the outcome of a credible study that should guide our negotiations, saying “Trade is war in different forms, it is not friendly. MAN has since commissioned a study and we expect to have the report about a month from now.
“We are already making advancement in the economic front and we shouldn’t allow any shady agreement to push us back. For instance, anything that comes into this country, how will it impact on the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, and the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan, EGRP?
Earlier, Dr. Frank Jacobs, MAN President, added: “Non-real sector operators in the Private Sector that are tactfully recommending that Mr. President should sign the agreement under the camouflage that majority of Nigerians and the Organised Private Sector agree with their position. They are essentially not at home with the technicalities of a trade agreement of this magnitude. The pronouncement of this group of actors is not representative of the views of the Organized Private Sector of Nigeria.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, we again request that President Muhammadu Buhari should not sign the AfCFTA agreement until the outcome of a credible study so indicate, but graciously allow the nation’s team to resume participation in the negotiation processes only to ensure that the country is abreast of developments.
“This will certainly not jeopardise or constrain the reservation of our assent, should we eventually decide that the Agreement is definitely not in our favour. It will only mean that, whilst keeping our eyes on the goings-on, we can continue with our much needed and sovereign path to determine whether we should sign-on or not.”