By Lawrence Olaoye
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has explained that the need for exhaustive consultation with the private sector, especially the manufacturing sector, was responsible for the delay in Nigeria signing the African Free Trade Agreement (AFTA).
Osinbajo reiterated this at a recent interview he granted Financial Times in Lagos.
Asked why President Muhammadu Bihar withheld endorsement of the agreement, Osinbajo said “Nigeria has one of the most vibrant private sectors. Manufacturers associations, in particular, and several others felt that we shouldn’t go into this without further consultations, and we wanted to know exactly what specifically in terms of negotiations that will follow the signing of the framework. And it was the President’s opinion that it would be much wiser for us to suspend the signing until all of those engagements had been done to the satisfaction of the private sector. We work very closely with the private sector in practically everything that we have done.
For us, it is important to sit back, take a look at those negotiations first before heading into the framework, which is really what we are doing at the moment. So, where we are is that we are looking at the nitty gritty and we are trying to be sure how it is going to play for our private sector people, for industry, for trade, etc. We are not saying we are going to renegotiate the framework; the framework is already there. Our greater concern is for the specifics. And we are at a point where before we go into that, we will certainly make sure that we are happy with the terms and conditions.”