Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki, has said that one of the reasons he was in Nigeria was to discuss the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) with President Muhammadu Buhari.
This was even as he hailed the President for his role in the anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria and the African continent.
Speaking after meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the Tafawa Balewa House, Abuja, Faki recalled that Nigeria was yet to sign the agreement.
He, however, said Nigeria was one of the important countries in Africa, adding that Nigeria should be committed to the development of the continent.
Faki also said Nigeria needed to be involved in promoting the AfCFTA agenda for the good of the entire continent of Africa.
“One of the reasons for the visit is to discuss with the president on the African free trade that is yet to be signed.
“We have to realise that Nigeria is one of the important countries in Africa and Nigeria is committed to the development of the continent,” Faki said.
Recall that the AfCFTA signed by 44 African countries in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018, is to create a single market for the African continent.
Nigeria did not sign the agreement as a result of complaints from stakeholders that they were not carried along in the process leading to the signing of the agreement.
The stakeholders, particularly the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, were of the opinion that the agreement would lead to gross unemployment in the country.
President Buhari had, on Monday, gave a marching order to the Presidential Committee for Impact and Readiness Assessment of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, to address the risks involved in the signing of the agreement.
On the AU’s endorsement of President Buhari as the African Union anti-corruption champion for the year 2018, Faki said African Heads of State appointed President Buhari due to his administration’s efforts in the fight against corruption.
“They know that he is very committed and dedicated, not only in Nigeria, but in the whole continent and his style of leadership. I am happy to work with him,” Faki added.
In his remarks, Onyeama said Faki’s visit was significant due to the centrality of Africa in the Nigeria foreign policy.
Onyeama further said the AU is extremely important to Nigeria, noting that Faki possess good ideas in achieving the various goals of the AU.
Onyeama pledged the support of Nigeria to Faki in achieving the goals of the AU.
“There is a road map and he has a vision for Africa and its development. There is 2063 agenda which is a road map that we hope will lead to peace and security on the continent. The road map is to silence the gun by 2020,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama also recalled the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda and the economic development of the African continent.
“It is now a question of implementing these goals to achieve them and the desire of Africa. There is a reform process that AU is involved to meet its challenges and that is a very important process for all the members to be engaged in.
“We are supporting him, he has very clear vision, and clear idea of how to achieve these goals and Nigeria is a very integral part of that process,” Onyeama further said.