Obasanjo criticizes ‘weak’ Buhari for not signing African Free Trade Agreement

Obasanjo criticizes ‘weak’ Buhari for not signing African Free Trade Agreement
October 15 10:36 2018

By Stanley Sunday

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said President Muhammadu Buhari’s hands are too weak to sign the African Free Trade Agreement.

The former President made the statement at the weekend while speaking at the Babacar Ndiaye lecture series in Bali, Indonesia.

Obasanjo spoke on the theme, ‘Global Power Disequilibrium, Trade Wars and Implications for Africa’ during the international lecture series instituted by Afrexim Bank to honour Dr. Babacar Ndiaye, a former President of the African Development Bank, who died on July 13, 2017.

The event held from the sidelines of the 2018 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

Obasanjo said he hoped that Nigeria will soon have a President who will sign the agreement.

He said, “Africa cannot overcome fears of trade wars till it achieves 50 per cent intra-Africa trade.

“The AfCTA is a good idea and for Nigeria, hopefully, we will have a president that will be able to sign it because the one that is there now, his hands are too weak to sign.”

Guests present at the 2018 lecture included leaders of African and global banks, development finance institutions, the business community and political leaders attending the World Bank–IMF Annual Meetings.

Others were members of the diplomatic community, policymakers, academicians, African and non-African ministers of finance, economy and development, central bank governors, and CEOs of global and African corporations.

Obasanjo’s criticism comes barely three months after the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, criticised the Buhari-led government for failing to sign the same free trade agreement.

Sanusi, who is a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, had said at the launching of the Association Peer-Review Journal in July that it was ironic that Nigeria had signed many trade deals with European and Asian countries but was failing to replicate it in Africa.

Explaining why Nigeria had not yet signed the $3tn agreement, during a joint press conference with South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in July, Buhari had said he was slow at reading.

He had said, “I am very careful about what I sign, whether it is my cheque book or agreements, especially when it involves nations and states. As your President Ramaphosa has said, we are so populated and have so many young unemployed citizens and our industries are just coming up.

“I was presented with the document; I am a very slow reader maybe because I am an ex-soldier. I didn’t read it fast enough before my officials saw that it was all right for signature. I kept it on my table. I will soon sign it.”