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.
Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Speaks on Looted Palliatives, Explains Delay
Looted Palliatives: Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Speaks
Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has spoken on the recent actions of criminals and thugs who hijacked the #EndSARS protest and looted warehouses where COVID-19 palliatives were kept for distributions.
The group refuted claims that the stolen items were hoarded for certain people instead of distribution to the vulnerable they were meant for. This is despite the fact that some of the palliatives were already rotten by the time criminals broke into the warehouses.
Some of the looters, who spoke with the press, said a sizeable number of the items were already rotten and destroyed by rodents, while one of the lawmakers tasked with distribution claimed he planned to distribute the items on his birthday. A statement that angered many Nigerians.
However, in a statement issued on behalf of the group by Osita Nwanisobi, the Acting Director of Corporate Communications, CBN, on Monday, CACOVID said due to the huge size of the items meant to be distributed, the complex process involved in manufacturing, packaging and the eventual distribution to 2 million most vulnerable families across the 774 local government in the country, the group agreed to conduct the supply in stages, especially given locked down imposed by the Federal Government during the period.
The statement reads, “Members of the Private Sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) wish to call for calm, amidst the looting of COVID-19 palliatives meant for distribution in various State Government warehouses across the country.
“The Coalition is deeply concerned by the recent events and is urging those involved in the wanton destruction of public and private property to immediately desist from these raids, in order to allow the States to proceed with a peaceful and fair distribution of these palliatives to the neediest and most vulnerable in our society.
“Over the past few months, the private sector, through CACOVID has been working with governors, the FCT Minister, and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to procure, deliver, and distribute these food relief items to almost 2 million most vulnerable families (over 10 million Nigerians) across the 774 local government areas of the country, as part of the private sector’s support towards the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The sheer scale of this nationwide food programme and the timing of the orders and deliveries, which coincided with the lockdowns and reduced movement across the country, compelled CACOVID to roll out distribution in a staggered manner.
“The very large size of the order and the production cycle required to meet the demand caused delays in delivering the food items to the states in an expeditious manner; hence, the resultant delay in delivery of the food palliatives by the state governors.”
Makinde Directs Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest
Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest, Says Governor Makinde
The Executive Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has directed schools across the Ibadan metropolis to resume normal activities immediately after the #EndSARS protest.
Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye, the commissioner for education, Oyo State, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday in Ibadan.
According to Olaleye, the directive was after a careful review of the situation in the Ibadan metropolis as promised by Governor Makinde in a state broadcast on October 20.
This was after the governor ordered the closure of all schools, private and public, in the Ibadan metropolis for three days and promised to review the situation on October 23.
Olaleye said the governor thanks the youths who have been cooperating with security operatives in the state to ensure peace and order.
NIMC to Register, Issue 2.5 million National Identification Monthly
The National Identity Management Commission has said it would improve registration and issuance of the National Identification Numbers to both Nigerians and legal residents to the current 500,000 to 2.5 million per month.
Aliya Aziz, Director-General, NIMC, said this was the commission’s renewed commitment towards the provision of identity services to the nation.
He gave the assurance while playing host to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who was on an official visit to the commission’s head office in Abuja.
Aziz said in a statement issued in Abuja by the Head, Corporate Communication, NIMC, Kayode Adegoke, that the commission would meet and surpass the monthly target.
This, he said, would be part of the policy statements in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.
The NIMC boss told his guest that the commission had competent human resources and was looking forward to government support and intervention in injecting the much needed material resources to realise the set objectives.
Pantami charged the commission to increase and improve its performance with regards to NIN registration and issuance, as he also reiterated the target of 2.5 million monthly enrolments.
The minister told his host that the importance of digital identity in actualising the digital economy goals could not be overemphasised and commended the strides recorded by the NIMC despite limited resources.
He assured the commission of government’s support and guidance towards ensuring the fulfilment of its mandate, adding that he had initiated moves to improve staff welfare at the NIMC.
Pantami also assured the NIMC management and staff of his resolve to improve the state of the current infrastructure and equipment to enable the commission to sustain its performance.
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