Nigeria will only maximize the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) if its ports are reformed and border management, the House of Representatives Committee on Commerce has said.
The Chairman of the committee, Femi Fakeye, stated this at a public hearing on a bill to repeal the Export Prohibition Act, which was held in Abuja on Tuesday.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on July 7, 2019, signed the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, making Nigeria the 53rd county in Africa to sign the AfCFTA.
Fakeye said, “Why we are haemorrhaging in Nigeria is the civil service. We have layers of tariffs you have to clear at the ports, whether you are importing or exporting. Meanwhile, what you are exporting is even perishable. People that have found their way to beat all these red tapes and get their yam to their friends across the border in Ghana are doing a lot of business.
“One thing I want to appeal is that we do reforms, now that we have AfCFTA. We will not be able to fight back or win dollars back unless we reform how we do things at the border. If you can get your container of yam through the border to Ghana, within one day or two (it is shipped). But here, you cannot even get it to Apapa. What does that mean in the financial term? Loss!
“We have to do some reforms if we really want to take advantage of AfCFTA.”
The lawmaker added, “This country, as big as it is, is a borrowing country. (In) 2005, we were able to get debt relief for this country. We will recall that we were forgiven our debts. ‘Go ye and sin no more.’ But today, our debit book, Nigeria’s ledger is $86bn in the red – $86bnin the red just between 2005 and now. And so, the tail is wagging the dog, when it comes to your living standards. Why are we not able to fight back? How do you fight back when you owe? You export. There is no doubt about it.”