The Take Back Nigeria Movement has condemned the Nigerian government for failing to participate at the signing of Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement in Rwanda last week.
The political group, led by Sahara Reporters’ publisher Yele Sowore, said Nigeria missed out on a major opportunity to champion the cause of progress in Africa because of President Muhammadu Buhari’s “shambolic approach to governance.”
On March 21, African leaders gathered in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to create a unified market for about 1.2 billion people across the continent.
Forty-four countries signed the deal, which has been described as the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organisation in 1995. It was aimed at boosting trade amongst African countries with a combined gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion by eliminating borders and tariffs on goods and services within the continent.
The deal was conceived in 2012 and negotiations formally opened in 2015. Mr. Buhari abruptly canceled a trip to Kigali, citing labour and legal issues. The countries signed the deal with the intention of continuing with negotiations on other critical details throughout the year.
Buhari had since raised an economic committee to iron out all objections that Nigeria may have against the deal with the hope of signing up later.
But Sowore, in a statement sent to TheNewsGuru.com Thursday morning, said this was not enough, saying Nigeria should have taken the leadership.
“Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and its largest economy and should have taken a key role in shaping the negotiations and the eventual agreement so that it would be beneficial to Nigeria’s economic and security interests.
“Instead of providing leadership, the Muhammadu Buhari government has exported its shambolic approach to governance at home to the continental stage. Just days after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved Nigeria’s participation in the agreement, the Buhari government announced it would no longer be participating because “some key stakeholders were not consulted.”
“It is unconscionable that it is at this late stage in the process that the Buhari government is realising that it ought to have engaged with Stakeholders,” Sowore said.
Recall that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had also last week joined other critics to lampoon Buhari and about a dozen other African heads of state for failing to sign the deal, describing their action as criminal.
Sowore said Take Back Nigeria Movement “believes that the economy of a nation as large as Nigeria, and decisions that impact the lives of almost 200 million people should not be taken lightly or on the whims of one man.”
The group promised to champion economic growth, protection of Nigerian economy, strong national security, amongst other developmental measures.
“Their voices will not be considered at the last minute, as has become the practice of the Buhari government,” it said.