Nigeria did not sign on to the framework arising from the negotiations of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which held in Kigali – Rwanda precisely on the 21st March 2018. There have been several blames, lamentations and castigations (some constructive though) that have resonated the entire media space till this date even casting aspersions on the Nigeria’s leader – President Mohammad Buhari, for declining to sign the dotted lines. There have also been deplorable barrage of blames on some trade and private sector practitioners, albeit some indirectly, for convincingly advising the President into the decision of withholding his signature. As the dust around Nigeria and the CFTA gradually begins to settle down, it is perhaps needful to appropriately reflect and contextualize the needless stigmatization on the country, the President and indeed Nigerians for the well thought out decision on the CFTA.
For the records, no right thinking Nigerian, nay, African would advise against the well-thought out arrangement called AfCFTA, which is even long overdue especially with recourse to the thrust behind the establishment of the African Union (and right from when it was the Organization of African Union – OAU). In the first place, if African countries have for long been enmeshed with trade agreements under different bilateral and multilateral arrangements and configurations, what makes it strange having an intra-African trade Agreement that increases trade and wealth redistribution among Africans? In terms of objectives, the CFTA is well-couched and framed within the ultimate targets of delivering on the three pronged pillars of wealth creation, sustainable development and poverty reduction. The foregoing intendment is gorgeously dressed with the attractive provisions of Article 3 of the Framework Agreement establishing the AfCFTA which seeks to create a single African market for Goods, Services and Movement of Persons with a view to deepening economic integration of the continent in line with the vision of Agenda 2063. By these provisions, every patriotic African who has travelled or transacted business across the continent can only copiously applaud this abundant expression of freedom and borderlessness associated with the AfCFTA in the making.