‘‘Nigeria is too big and too diverse to blindly sign agreements without understanding the consequences of such actions,’’ President Muhammadu Buhari said, Friday, in Abuja.
President Buhari made the declaration when he received representatives of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) led by its president, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, at the Presidential Villa.
The President used the occasion of his audience with members of the LCCI to shine more light on his decision to inaugurate a Presidential Committee Monday this week to assess the potential costs and impact of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for Nigeria.
‘‘Nigeria is still assessing the impact of this agreement on its backward integration and import substitution policies.
‘‘Specifically, the provisions on rules of origin and transhipment were matters of concern to us.
‘‘Already, some of the treaties we are party to have been significantly abused resulting in massive smuggling which has crippled many of our local industries and destroyed millions of jobs.
‘‘To avoid these past mistakes, we conducted vast consultations across the country in which the LCCI participated. The responses have been mixed,’’ the President said.
On the issue of the gridlock in Apapa, Lagos, President Buhari acknowledged that the situation was a major concern to all.
‘‘The work on Wharf road is in progress. We will continue to do our best to expedite the repair works at the Ijora Bridge without compromising quality.
‘‘We have also directed the Nigerian Railway Corporation to use their infrastructure in the ports to support the evacuation efforts, thereby further decongesting the area.
‘‘Be assured that the completion of these projects is a major priority of this administration,’’ he said.
Earlier in his remarks, Ruwase while commending the Federal Government for the series of Executive Orders focused on promoting the ease of doing business in the country, stressed the need to improve the regulatory environment in the oil and gas industry.
He, therefore, appealed to the executive arm of the government to expeditiously consider the Petroleum Industry Bill through appropriate collaborative actions with the National Assembly.
The LCCI president also drew the attention of the President to the numerous abandoned Federal Government properties in Lagos and the economic waste it represents.
He urged the Federal Government to either return the property to Lagos State government which is the original owner of the land; or give them out on lease to the private sector.
Femi Adesina, a Nigerian journalist, is the special adviser on media and publicity to the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. Adesina wrote for Vanguard and National Concord Newspapers before joining The Sun Newspaper, where he rose to editor-in-chief. He was the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors when he was appointed by President Buhari in 2015.