A joint winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize and Congolese doctor, Dennis Mukengere Mukwege, has called for joint and decisive actions against sexual violence, especially against women and girls.
Mukwege, who was the Daily Trust African of the Year award in 2008, made the call last night in Abuja at an international conference tagged “Addressing Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Conflict through Transitional Justice- and Screening of the ‘Prosecutor’” organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).
The gynaecologist, who won the Daily Trust award in recognition of his work in helping women victims of the civil unrest in his native Democratic Republic of Congo, said it was important to also educate the boys and girls on one hand and boys and men on the other over the menace and consequences of sexual violence.
According to him, there is the urgent need to stand for boys and girls going through sexual and gender-based violence.
“We need to fight together against sexual and gender-based violence in Africa. Silence is a very potent tool used by perpetrators of sexual violence. We need to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence instead of stigmatizing them,” Mukwege said.
The CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, said sexual and gender based violence must be tackled to preserve societal sanity.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, represented by Mrs. Maryam Uwais, said many, especially children, have been displaced without means of living. She said the government is working on reconstruction and reintegration in the North East, and also adopting the community driven conflict resolution.
and safeguards for vulnerable groups and countries in challenging circumstances.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had, while speaking recently, at the 2019 Annual Meetings of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in place in Moscow, Russia, said that Nigeria should sign the agreement.
Nigeria, along with others, declined to sign the agreement which was since endorsed by representatives of 52 of the 55 AU member states.
President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently set up a committee to assess impact and readiness of AfCFTA. The committee was inaugurated on Monday, October 22, 2018.
Presenting the report to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday, chairman of the committee, Mr. Desmond Guobadia, said Nigeria should consider signing the agreement.
He said the committee, since it was constituted, had reviewed over 200 submissions from various stakeholders, before recommending for the signing of the treaty.
“Our reports show that on the balance, Nigeria should consider joining the AfCFTA and using the opportunity of the ongoing AfCFTA Phase I negotiations to secure the necessary safeguards required to ensure that our domestic policies and programs are not compromised,” he said.
The committee, which listed some benefits and possible dangers of the agreement, said intra-African trade, which is trade among African countries, constituted only 14.6 percent of Africa’s total trade with the world.
“This means that African countries depend on countries outside the continent for over 85 percent of her total trade.
“In comparison, intra-EU trade during same period was 69.8 percent, intra- American trade was 46% and intra-Asian trade was 59.6 percent,” he said.
The committee noted that the low level of intra-African trade pointed to low production capacity of African countries, high tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. In order words, African countries are still far from achieving self-sufficiency across all sectors.
“Another factor is the preference of African countries to trade with countries outside of Africa due to colonial ties and other economic and political considerations,” he said.
The chairman said their study showed that the AfCFTA was not without major risks and undesirable impacts, adding that their report recognized that there will be significant adjustment costs to manage the negative impacts and to take advantage of the opportunities.
The committee proposed policies, programmes, projects and interventions which may position Nigeria adequately for the AfCFTA.
The panel recommended the extension of the timelines to achieve trade liberalization and integration ambitions and possibly replacing them with a readiness criteria.
He also said the panel recommended for the introduction of explicit rules on import quota restrictions and adoption of a common Market Access Offer for Trade in Goods and Trade in Services for ECOWAS, including synchronized Sensitive and Exclusive Lists;
The panel further recommended the adoption of the common Market Access Offer for Trade in Goods to replace and supersede the 2013 ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), which created vulnerabilities for Nigerian industry and manufacturing.
We can’t afford to rush – Buhari
Responding, Buhari said Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy and most populous country, cannot afford to rush into such agreements without full and proper consultation with all stakeholders.
“Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis,” he said.
He said the AfCFTA will have both positive and negative effects on the country as a nation and on the region.
Buhari said for AfCFTA to succeed, policies that promote African production, among other benefits, must be developed.
“Africa, therefore, needs not only a trade policy but also a continental manufacturing agenda. Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of “made in Africa goods”. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition.
“If we allow unbridled imports to continue, it will dominate our trade. The implication of this is that coastal importing nations will prosper while landlocked nations will continue to suffer and depend on aid,” he said.
On the report, the president said, “Let me assure you that your report will form part of the consideration in our decision on the next steps on the AfCFTA in particular and on broader trade integration subjects.”
AfDB: Why Nigeria should sign AfCFTA
Nigeria holds all the aces as far as Africa’s regional integration for economic prosperity is concerned, and its failure to sign on to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement may hold the continent back, the African Development Bank Area (AfDB) has said.
Speaking in an interview with Daily Trust at the sideline of the AfDB’s 2019 Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the bank’s Senior Director for Nigeria Mr Ebrima Faal said the regional integration for Africa’s economic prosperity may suffer a setback if Nigeria fails to sign on to the agreement. The AfCFTA which will constitute the world’s largest free trade area is expected to be launched in July. When launched, it will consolidate an integrated market of 1.3 billion consumers with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of about $3.4 trillion.
It is estimated that Africa’s GDP growth could reach 6% a year in a continent without borders, according to experts.
Although Nigeria continues to participate actively in the Technical Working Groups for the negotiation of AfCFTA, it has not yet signed the agreement.
The AfCFTA which was introduced in March 2018 has had, as of February 2019, 52 out of 55 countries signed the agreement and 22 have ratified it.
Mr Faal said Nigeria stands to benefit immensely from the continent wide free trade area as it will boost its economy.
He said the bank’s regional integration strategy for West Africa is anchored on a Regional Integration Strategy Paper, which articulates the areas of priority for the bank’s intervention.
President should take best decision, MAN says
The Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said MAN was a prominent member of the Steering Committee of the Presidential Committee on Impact and Readiness Assessment of the AfCFTA.
“We equally participated actively in its various Technical Working Groups that produced the report that was submitted today. The President of MAN and I were also there as members of the Steering Group and the Technical Working Group respectively. “
You would recall that MAN had advised government to ensure adequate consultation with the relevant stakeholders and to conduct a detailed study on the implication of the AfCFTA on the manufacturing sector in particular and the Nigerian economy in general.
Ajayi-Kadri said: “We equally counselled on the need to put in place structures and measures that would mitigate identified risks on the one hand and support the local economic actors to take advantage of the opportunities on the other.
“These have been done and the icing on the cake was the Committee that brought all the stakeholders together to produce the report that advised government to consider signing the agreement.
“It is now left to government to, in its wisdom, take a decision.”
He said as a member of the Steering Committee, MAN should not pre-empt the government. “We are certainly in sync with the Federal Government’s approach on the AfCFTA and reassured by the address of Mr. President after the presentation of the report earlier at the Villa today.”