THE Federal Government has explained why President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled his scheduled trip to Kigali, Rwanda, yesterday.
The president said the federal government called off attendance at the extraordinary meeting of African Union Heads of State and Government, to allow more input from Nigerian stakeholders.
This was contained in a two-paragraph statement signed by spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tope Adeleye Elias-Fatile.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled his trip to Kigali, Rwanda, to attend an Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on Tuesday, March 21, to sign a framework agreement for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“This is to allow more time for input from Nigerian stakeholders.”
The president was billed to depart Nigeria for Kigali, today, for the signing of the framework agreement for establishing the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
The rece team was already in Kigali while the advance team, comprising protocol staff, security officers and journalists, who were to depart Nigeria, last Saturday, were asked to return from Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, where they were to take off.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had, last Wednesday, approved that Nigeria sign the framework agreement for the AfCFTA.
The council had also approved that Nigeria express her interest in hosting the AfCFTA secretariat.
The decision to establish the AfCFTA was taken in 2012, by all Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), at their 18th Ordinary Session.
AfCFTA is the first step in the implementation of AU Agenda 2063: the “Vision” for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and several experts, who reacted to the reported move by the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment to ensure that president Buhari signs the treaty on Wednesday, warned of the likely negative impact on private businesses and the country’s economy.
They warned that free trade can cause turbulence in sectors of the domestic economy, such as long-established manufacturing segments already vulnerable to global competition.
They also expressed concern that the agreement, which is aimed at liberating the African economy, by creating a free trade Area for all 55-member states of the AU), may end up doing more harm than good because of the sensitivity of the policy and its possible negative impact on the country’s economy and private owned industries, especially.
NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said the probable outcome of the treaty, if given life, may have crippling effect on local businesses and attendant effects on jobs.
“We have no doubt that this policy initiative will spell the death knell of the Nigerian economy,” he said.