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.
FG Has Paid Fuel marketers N74B in Seven Months — NMDPRA
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) on Wednesday disclosed that the federal government has paid oil marketers N74 billion as bridging claims in last seven months..
The agency said it was reacting to claims by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN), Suleja branch, that continuing fuel scarcity was caused by non-payment of bridging claims.
The agency said it paid N71.2 billion bridging claims and another N2.7 billion freight differentials to the marketers as of June 6.
In May, IPMAN said the government owed its members half a trillion naira being the cost of transporting petrol across the country.
However, at the time NMDPRA had claimed to have paid oil marketers bridging claims of about N59 billion in five months.
In recent months, fuel scarcity has worsened in Abuja and several other cities across the country.
Marketers had listed the high cost of buying petrol at the depots and the high cost of diesel to truck them as the major factors responsible for the recent queue.
On Monday, the government announced that the nation’s capital petroleum deliveries were up nearly 100 per cent after the government offered additional N10 freight reimbursements to marketers.
The statement by the NMDPRA reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has been drawn to allegations made by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN Suleja Branch) on product scarcity as a result of non-payment of bridging claims.
“The authority chief executive of the NMDPRA, at a meeting held on 17th May 2022 with IPMAN bridging payment was discussed extensively and the processes were explained and agreed upon by IPMAN.
“He assured IPMAN of NMDPRA’s willingness to continue making payments of outstanding claims to promote seamless operations.
“Pursuant to the meeting, the NMDPRA went ahead to make an additional payment of N10 billion in June and sought for an upward review of the freight rate which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and is currently being implemented.
“The Authority wishes to reiterate that bridging payment is an ongoing process which is carried out after due verification exercise by the Authority and Marketers.
“So far, the Authority paid N71,233,712,991 bridging claims and another N2,736,179,950.84 freight differentials to the Marketers as at 6th June 2022.
“A breakdown of payment made to Marketers is as follows: Major Marketers (MOMAN) received N9,958,777,487.24, IPMAN members were paid N42,301,923,616.96, NNPC Retails N6,661,459,118.61 while DAPPMAN members were paid N12,303,195,651.57, these translate to a total of N73,969,892,941.84.
“It is disheartening that despite these payments and increase of N10 bridging cost, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago, IPMAN could turn around to accuse the NMDPRA of insensitivity,” the statement said.
It said NMDPRA remains committed to ensuring a safe, efficient, and effective conduct of midstream and downstream petroleum operations.
Nigeria-Cameroon Link Bridge up for Inauguration this June – Fashola
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has stated that the Nigeria-Cameroon link bridge will be inaugurated this June.
Speaking at the 16th inter-ministerial meeting of the group in Abuja, Fashola who doubles as the Chairman of the five regional ministerial steering committees, explained that the largely funded bridge by the African Development Bank (AfDB) is completed and in hopes that ECOWAS would deliver support for the inauguration.
“We have completed a new link bridge that links Nigeria to Cameroon, and it was funded largely by the AfDB and we are hoping that the ECOWAS commission will give us the necessary support to ensure the formal opening of that bridge sometime in the month of June,” he said.
The commitment to the piece of infrastructure, according to the minister, is to transform the road network into a first-class six-lane motorway, emphasizing that while speed is important, quality must not be lost.
“We’re trying to deliver a better life for five countries and over 40 million people who use that corridor, almost on a daily basis.
“The future is bright, this is an important investment for the people of Africa to achieve the objective of the Africa Union (AU) to create a trans-African highway,” he stated.
Lydie Ehouman, AfDB’s Chief Transport Economist and Project Task Manager, also spoke at the event, stating that the bank had been able to acquire an additional €3.5 million for the road project.
Investors King gathered that the total sum available for the initial financing of the project’s strategic research has increased to $41 million.
“The agreement for the on-lending of this additional grant by the bank to ECOWAS is currently being finalised. Thus, in addition to its substantial contribution of $25 million, the bank will have mobilised €12.63 million in the form of a grant from the European Union.
“This brings the total amount available for the financing of this highly strategic study to the equivalent of about US$ 41 million,” she stated.
She did, however, point out that specialists in member countries’ claims of delays were untrue, because the arrangement was that labor should persist while any differences were aired and rectified.
UNDP, DPGA to Promote Global Digital Goods
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), the government of Norway, and Sierra Leone have agreed to promote inclusive digital public infrastructure in countries across the world.
On Wednesday, Investors King gathered that world leaders, development organisations and philanthropic funders are set to invest in a “large-scale technology sharing, funding, and commitment to supporting the international cooperation agenda.”
In its published statement, UNDP stated that the agreement is to improve governance frameworks, which are critical to building a resilient future for countries.
At the event, global leaders committed their efforts to funding and the implementation of digital public infrastructure through a newly established Digital Public Goods Charter (DPG), which serves as a framework to increase international cooperation on this plan.
With its DPG Charter, co-led by the DPGA and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), the UNDP outlines a clear vision for a coordinated global approach to building a safe, trusted, and inclusive digital public infrastructure using DPGs.
“Doing so can enable countries – regardless of income levels – to transform services and service delivery for people and communities everywhere,” the statement read.
The DPG Charter, and the commitments made by global leaders, are especially relevant given the devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting climate disruption.
These challenges, compounded with the unprecedented food, energy, and financial crisis added by the war in Ukraine, are creating an urgent need for global action.
Digital Public Goods are open-source solutions used to build digital public infrastructure (DPI), enabling countries to provide better services and foster inclusive economic growth.
While the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) involves digital systems like cash transfers, digital identification, and data exchange that enable the adequate provision of essential society-wide functions. It also allows the building of resilient crisis recovery.
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