President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday inaugurated the Presidential Committee for Impact and Readiness Assessment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA).
At the event at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Buhari said that Nigeria would not sign any treaty without assessing its impact on the lives of its citizens.
His comment might be in response to critics, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The president said Nigeria would henceforth take its time to breakaway from the past practice, where treaties were signed without making the needed positive gains for the country.
The Presidential Committee has the Minister of Industry as its Chairman, with the Chief of Staff to the President as Co-Chairman.
Buhari said: “We are determined to breakaway from the past practice of committing Nigeria to treaties without a definite implementation plan to actualise the expected benefit while mitigating the risks.
“We cannot go back to the days of signing agreements without understanding and planning for the consequences of such actions and our country being the worst for it.
“Few months ago I directed a nationwide stakeholders’ engagement on the Africa Free Trade Continental Area Agreement to understand the true impact of this agreement on Nigeria and Nigerians, considering the existing domestic and regional policies as it relates to trade.’’
Buhari, therefore, charged the committee to concentrate on the issues raised during the nationwide consultations in order to find lasting solutions to them.
“Your task as members of the Impact and Readiness Assessment of the African Continental Free Trade Area Committee is to address the issues raised during the stakeholders’ consultations on the Africa Continental free trade Agreement.
“You are expected to develop short, medium and long term measures that will address any challenges arising therefrom,’’ he added.
The President further stated that Nigeria’s vision for intra-African trade was for a free movement of made in Africa goods, noting that Nigeria was the largest economy in Africa.
He regretted that for too long, the country’s domestic productive capabilities were neglected in favour of imports.
According to him, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan introduced by the current administration will help revive key job creating and import substitution sectors like agriculture, mining and manufacturing.