Social Action, an economic and social rights group, has asked the federal government to not to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, with the European Union, EU.
The EPA is purportedly to eliminate trade restrictions between it and member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Promoters of the agreement say signing it will give the 16-member ECOWAS states ECOWAS better access to EU markets and ensure their integration into the global economy.
Although about 13 members of the regional body have since signed the draft agreement, Nigeria has consistently resisted the pressure to do so.
Ghana and Ivory Coast have also resisted the EPA.
At the 49th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS in Dakar, Senegal in June 2016, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo reiterated Nigeria’s fears about the agreement.
Apart from fear of the agreement exposing Nigeria to become dumping ground for European goods and services, Mr. Osinbajo said some of its terms were capable of restricting Nigerian manufacturers and trading activities.
But, at the end of a roundtable organized by Social Action on the EU/ECOWAS EPA in Abuja, participants urged the Nigerian government to unequivocally reject the deal.
The group said it was worried by the enormous pressure by EU on Nigeria, saying government risked ratifying an EPA Nigerian manufacturers, civil society actors and trade experts have raised red flags against.
A12-page “briefing” document discussed during the roundtable revealed a high level of ignorance among Nigerians on the implications of the proposed agreement.
The head of Social Action, Vivian-Bellonwu Okafor, said the group was shocked that signing the EPA resurfaced this year after several rejections by successive governments.
“Nigerians need to analyze and understand how the EPA would affect the national economy,” Mrs. Okafor said.
The group said it doubted whether the Nigerian economy was strong or prepared enough to take advantage of the European markets as proposed under the EPA.
Besides, the group said Nigeria did not have a readily available comparative advantage to explore EU markets, while most African countries, particularly Nigeria, do not have finished goods to sell to EU markets.
“Considering the mismatch of the two regions, in terms of technological advancement and manufacturing experience, is Nigeria advantageously placed in this agreement?” the group asked.
Lead speaker, Jaiye Gaskiya, opposed the EPA, describing it as “premature and counter-productive, as Nigeria’s industrial revolution plan will never see the light of the day.”
A trade lawyer, Ken Ukoha, who represented the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), said “judging the outcome against objectives, it would be ill-advised for Nigeria to sign an agreement that would weaken her economy through capital flight.”
The coordinator, African Media and Information Literacy, Chido Onumah, said signing the agreement with the EU would be tantamount to further subjecting Nigeria to the dictates of Western financial capital.
“This certainly is a neo-colonialist attempt to render Nigerians and Africans permanently dependent on the Europeans,” Mr. Onumah said.
In the communiqué at the end of the meeting, the group said rather than sign the EPA, government should pursue and implement the National Industrial Revolution Plan to strengthen the Nigeria industrial sector.
Besides, it urged government to engage Nigerians and get inputs towards the efficient implementation of the industrial development policy.
Other recommendations included diversification of the economy by maintaining a paradigm shift from mono to multi-products, for opportunity to cash in on the proposed open EU markets.
The group also urged government to encourage extraction activities and utilization of local raw materials through the development of local content policy and enforcement.
“Government must embark on infrastructural development revolution policy to restore effectiveness and capacity to support industrialization.
“Government must maintain the culture of development sustainability through objective formulation and implementation of sustainable development policies framework,” it said.
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Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
Nigeria Spends N231.27 Billion on Arms Procurement in Four Years Amidst Rising Security Challenges
The Federal Government of Nigeria has disbursed a total of N231.27 billion for arms and ammunition procurement over the past four years.
Despite this significant investment, security agencies argue that the allocated funds are insufficient to effectively tackle the myriad security challenges afflicting the nation.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, defended the substantial budget for arms purchases during a session with the House of Representatives.
He emphasized that Nigeria’s dependence on foreign countries for military hardware, which are priced in dollars, diminishes the impact of the substantial budget when converted to the local currency.
General Musa explained, “We don’t produce what we need in Nigeria, and if you do not produce what you need, that means you are at the beck and call of the people that produce these items. All the items we procured were bought with hard currency, none in naira.”
He further illustrated the challenges faced, citing that a precision missile for drones costs $5,000, underscoring the magnitude of the expenses associated with arms procurement.
An analysis of the annual budgets for the Ministry of Defence and eight other armed forces from 2020 to 2022 reveals allocations of N11.72 billion, N10.78 billion, and N9.64 billion, respectively.
In 2023, N47.02 billion was disbursed for arms procurement, supplemented by a recently passed budget of N184.25 billion, resulting in a total of N231.27 billion.
Security expert Chidi Omeje raised concerns about the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), which is tasked with manufacturing arms locally. Omeje criticized DICON’s underperformance, urging the government to revamp the agency to reduce reliance on foreign nations for arms and ammunition.
Omeje stressed, “The new government must make sure that DICON lives up to its responsibilities,” highlighting the urgency of fostering self-sufficiency in arms production to address the country’s security challenges effectively.
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