Why Buhari countered Osinbajo, FEC on Africa trade deal

*FG votes N7bn to fortify Abuja UN complex
By Chesa Chesa
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday set up a committee to review the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFA) agreement which he refused to sign despite approval given by a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in his absence.
The President has now cited his concerns about the possible adverse economic and security implications of the deal for Nigeria as the reason he countered the FEC approval.
Last weekend, Buhari cancelled his trip to a summit of African leaders in Kigali, Rwanda where the deal was to have been sealed by African Union leaders on March 21st.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had then explained that this was done to enable wider consultations with stakeholders, lack of which made industry groups like the Nigeria Labour Congress to kick against the deal ab initio.
This was despite the fact that the decision for the President to go ahead and sign the agreement in Kigali, was taken at last week’s FEC meeting chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo while Buhari was away on official trip to Yobe State.
Briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Aso Rock Villa on Wednesday, Buhari’s senior spokesman, Femi Adesina, said that the presidential committee was given two weeks to report back to the President at FEC.
According to Adesina, the President informed his cabinet members that he would append his signature to any agreement that would jeopardize Nigeria’s economic and security interests.
He said “the explanation from the President which the FEC bought was that he would not want to agree to anything that would hinder local entrepreneurs.
a�?And on the surface except if proven wrong is that, that agreement has the capacity to affect local entrepreneurship.
“Then he also said that anything that could encourage the dumping of finished goods in Nigeria was going to be contrary to our interest.
It is one of the reasons why he declined.
“Then he said the country is yet to fully understand the Economic and security implications of the agreement.
“So, there has to be further consultations with different stakeholders and the final position was that a committee be set up to meet and review the contents of that proposal and they will do it within two weeks and get back to the Federal Executive Council.”
The presidential aide noted that it was expected that the Minister of Labour will call for a stakeholdersa�� meeting with labour groups to brainstorm on the implications of the CFTA framework agreement.
Members of the committee are the ministries and agencies of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Labour and Employment, Foreign Affairs and Science and Technology.
The agencies are, Federal Inland Revenue Services, the Central Bank of Nigeria, Customs and Immigration. So, they will constitute the Committee that will look into the proposals that are contained in the Continental Free Trade Area and the will brief the Federal Executive Council in two weeks.
Meanwhile, the FEC approved a contract of N6.97 billion through the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mohammed Bello, for the completion and furnishing of the United Nations (UN) complex in Abuja that was bombed by Boko Haram terrorists in August 2011.
The Federal Government, which offered to rebuild the complex, awarded the contract to the original builders, Julius Berger, with a completion period of 12 months.
The contract will include constructing a bomb-proof perimeter fencing, installing closed circuit television cameras, body and baggage scanners, a police post, as well as other furnishings for the use of the 18 UN agencies that the complex is meant.
Another contract approved by FEC through a memo from Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, was of N1.14 billion for the procurement and installation of very high frequency radio equipment in Kano, Lago, Abuja, Port Harcourt and 10 other airports, including those of Enugu, Calabar, Benin, Jos, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Sokoto, Ilorin.
This will significantly improve the radio communication needed between pilots and control towers, and enhance aviation safety across the country, Sirika explained.

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