Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has urged the Federal Government to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFT) agreement.
Obansanjo made the call at the ongoing 2019 Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Moscow Russia.
He said Nigeria had no justifiable reason why it had not signed the agreement as countries like Eritrea, Niger and even Benin that were our neighbors had signed.
“ I don’t think there is any confusion. I was talking to somebody in government in Nigeria not long ago, he said we would be like a sleeping giant and when a sleeping giant wakes up he will surprise everybody.
“ I believe we have enjoyed the time of delay but of course we have no choice than to sign it.
“ I do hope that sincerely before the formal inauguration in Niamey on July 7 and 8, that Nigeria will not be absent at the launching because I see no reason why Nigeria can be present when it has not signed the agreement.
“If you heard the statement of Nigeria’s Permanent Secretary, you have nothing in a statement more beautiful than that, but he is not a policy maker, he is a policy executor.
“Now, he will go home and tell the policy makers that he has made the right statement and its now right for action. I hope after he says that, they will follow through,” he said.
According to Obasanjo, Nigeria supposedly did the AFCTA negotiation from Egypt with a Nigerian minister actually leading the negotiation.
He said unfortunately while that negotiation was going on, the type of consultation that should have gone on with trade unions, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Chambers of Commerce and civil society did not go on.
“Government is only a facilitator but the people who will really make it work are the private sector operators but they are not carried along.”
“ When Nigeria came back, the cabinet endorsed it but when it was presented to the private sector, they were asking what it was all about.
“The other day I was in Addis Ababa on this same issue, the trade unions, MAN and chambers of commerce were there and they all said they are now fully informed and now fully onboard.
“It is now left for government to do the needful by signing the agreement,” he said.