Francis Anatogu, Secretary, National Action Committee (NAC) on implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement says the Federal Government wants state governments to embrace economic opportunities that trade area offers.
Anatogu made this known when he led officials of the secretariat on a courtesy visit to Mr Asishana Okauru, the Director-General of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Friday in Abuja.
Anatogu, who is also the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Sector said the visit was part of efforts to engage stakeholders in designing a roadmap for the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.
According to him, the Federal Government wants a buy-in and support of stakeholders in both the public and private sectors to ensure that Nigeria maximised business opportunities offered by the One-African market agreement.
He said that the NAC urged state governments to support in the development of respective sub-national strategies for AfCFTA and facilitate the set-p of AfCFTA implementation focal desks in the respective states.
He said they were also expected to play roles in sponsorship and participation in AfCFTA sensitisation programmes and as well provide commitment of both human and financial resources.
“It is no longer news that we have been clamouring for the diversification of our economy over the years.
“As a committee, we are now working toward how we as a nation can properly utilise business doors being offered by AfCFTA.
“The NGF represents the states as good channel to reach out to the state government and that is why will have reached out to it.
“We want them to take advantage of AfCTA because as a national we need to produce what we sell; we need to invest and attract investors.
“To attract investors, we need good policies, infrastructure and good conditions for ease of doing business,” he said.
Anatogu said that the AfCFTA agreement encouraged member states to specialise in the production of certain goods where they have a comparative advantage.
He therefore urged state governments to explore their areas of comparative advantages for economic growth and job creation under the AfCFTA arrangement.
Responding, the Director-General of NGF commended the NAC team for the visit and pledged his support and readiness to work with the secretariat.
He said his office would take the message of the NAC team to the governors and as well arrange for a meeting where the team would make a formal presentation to the governors.
“Trade and all the things around it are very important for the development of our country, so we have to get our principals involved in this project.
“To make any meaningful impact from this project, the sub-national leaders must be involved and the forum we will provide that platform for easy coordination.
“They all know that we have signed this agreement but how to get them involved is very important for the benefit of all,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that following the signing of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the constitution of a National Action Committee (NAC).
The mandate of the NAC is to coordinate relevant MDAs and stakeholder groups to implement the trade readiness interventions detailed in the AfCFTA Impact and Readiness Assessment Report including projects, policies and programmes.
The AfCFTA with its secretariat in Accra, Ghana is a free trade area created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) nations.
The free-trade area is reputed to be the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services with free movement of people and capital and pave the way for creating a Customs Union.
It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent.