After Obasanjo Slammed Him Twice, Buhari Finally Signs Africa Free Trade Deal
President Muhammadu Buhari has finally signed the agreement for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) at the ongoing African Union (AU) Summit in Niamey, Niger Republic.
Buhari signed the agreement at the opening of the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government on the AFCFTA.
This comes more than one year after former President Olusegun Obasanjo slammed the President twice for refusing to sign the free trade agreement.
Obasanjo had in March of 2018 described the President’s refusal to attend the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) in Kigali, Rwanda, as “criminal”.
“It is criminal for any African leader to talk of not understanding what we are going to sign (Free Trade Agreement in Africa) and afford not to be here,” the former president had said.
“That President Buhari didn’t sign the free trade agreement in Kigali is disappointing; I hope he signs it before it is too late,” Obasanjo had said during a presidential panel titled: ‘When Leaders Make History’ at the Africa CEO Forum that held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in March of 2018
Meanwhile, Buhari had based his refusal to attend the AU meeting for the ACFTA signing in Kigali on the need to consult widely with relevant stakeholders in the country before inking the deal.
“Any African Free trade agreement must Fairly and Equitably represent the interest of Nigeria, and indeed, her African brothers and sisters,” adding that “As Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, we are committed to ensuring that all trade agreements we sign are beneficial to the long-term prosperity of the continent,” the President had tweeted at the time.
The President’s initial refusal to sign the agreement came after the Federal Executive Council (FEC), on March 14, 2018, approved that Nigeria should join 55 other African countries in signing the deal in order to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent from about 19 per cent.
Obasanjo had taken another swipe at Buhari in October of 2018 over the ACFTA deal, saying the President’s hands were “took week” to ink the deal.
The former president took the second dig at Buhari while speaking at the 2018 Babacar N’Diaye Annual Lecture which held on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank Annual General Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, last year.