Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo and Chairman, Advisory Board of the First Intra-African Trade Fair holding in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday lamented Nigeria’s failure to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), despite its leadership role in the continent.
Obasanjo stated this while speaking at the closing sessions of the first Intra Africa Trade Fair and Exhibitions titled “Conversation with former Nigerian president”.
He made it clear that the rest of Africa countries was ready to proceed with the implementation of the pact without Nigeria.
On March 21, 2018, 44 of the 55 African Union (AU) member states gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, to sign the AfCFTA with a view to creating a single market in the continent.
Once the agreement is ratified by all signatories, the trade bloc to be created would encompass 1.2 billion people and over $2trillion in combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“I just sincerely hope and pray that Nigeria will be at the table before the implementation of the scheme begins. But the truth is that whether Nigeria is there or not, Africa has started to move forward and it cannot stop the rest of continent that have already signed the agreement.
“We started it from 1963. From there we had the Lagos Plan of Action, then NEPAD, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and several others. But what has gone wrong today that Nigeria is taking the back stage in Africa’s economic integration initiative?” he said.
According to him, the AfCTA is the economic salvation that Africa needs to redeem the wrong perceptions of it left by colonialism.
“I don’t care what people say about me but I believe this is the time that we need to rise together and prove to world leaders that go with the perception that Africans live in huts and that we are shit holes, that we are human beings and the only way we can do this is by improving the standard of living of Africans,” Obasanjo added.`