Governors of the 36 states of the federation have said for Nigeria to overcome challenges that would come with African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) , it needs to maintain its leading position in Africa’s integration by bringing down ideological limitations and artificial trade barriers.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, made the governors’ position known at the opening of a three-day subnational strategy workshop on AfCFTA organised by the National Action Committee in conjunction with the NGF in Abuja.
The NGF chairman said regulatory agencies of government like the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) must change their revenue sharing mindset and adopt trade facilitation.
He noted: “We have Customs, I don’t want to go into the details of the mentality of our Customs which focuses more on revenue generation than trade facilitation, and trade facilitation is what will make AfCFTA work better in our environment.
“Yes, we all say under the Buhari’s administration as part of the ease of doing business competitive framework, we now allow visa at the point of entry, but those who have gone through that experience will also tell you that trying to bring people in on the visa at point of entry is an experience you will rather not have because is not as smooth will claim it to be,”.
Fayemi also observed that Nigeria has a tradition and history of being involved in regional integration both at the African Union level as well as being a foundation member of ECOWAS, adding that the basis was already there for trade facilitation, job creation, and expanding economic opportunities of businesses in the country.
“Ultimately, we will be the beneficiaries if we focus on this and look at the opportunities and challenges, and block the leakages that may make it difficult for us to be a full part in the AfCFTA,” he said.
He said with AfCFTA, Nigeria is well on its way to becoming a multi-sector giant as a benefactor from benefits such as regional supply chain and job creation.
He however argued that to fully harness this growth, states in the country must incorporate components of the AfCFTA agreement into their development plans.
This, he said, would enable the country to competitively participate in the continental free trade.
“Nigeria is already utilising regional trade opportunities, contributing approximately 76 per cent of total trading volume in the ECOWAS region. AfCFTA will only further enhance this trade, creating new economic opportunities and spurring economic and trade growth.
“We believe AfCFTA has created a significant opportunity for Nigeria to drive job creation and capacity building with the creation of a single libralised market for trade and services for the continent. The AfCTA enables both the trade in products and services as well as the human capital,” he added.
The governors also canvassed the need for the country to avail itself of the opportunities enshrined within the AfCFTA, with new and improved trade opportunities, creating enhanced regional supply network, domestic job opportunities and capacity building.