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Signing of the AfCFTA

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History was made on July 7, 2019, when President Muhammad Buhari finally signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement at the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, holding in Niamey, Niger Republic. Nigeria has thus become the 53rd African country to sign the agreement, which has already been ratified by 24 countries.

Over the years, African leaders have toyed with the idea of an integrated market on the continent that allows free trade among countries in the continent to strengthen the economies of their respective countries, which have been struggling. The countries, through the African Union, in 2012, came up with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aim is to deepen regional integration. The ACFTA covers goods and services and has plans for infrastructure, industrialisation, agriculture modernisation and small scale trade, as well as innovation, intellectual property, competition and investment, and is expected to be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, with a potential market of 1.

2 billion people and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2 5 trillion, across all 55 member states of the African Union.

Even though Nigeria was one of the countries that championed the AfCFTA, local labour unions kicked against it as they perceived it to be detrimental to our country’s economy.

Following the protests against it, at a time most African countries had keyed into the arrangement, Nigeria was yet to, as there was a high level of scepticism about it. At the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari had announced Nigeria’s decision to put off the signing of the AfCFTA to allow more time for stakeholders in the country to review and make contributions. The president’s announcement was on the heels of protests by local business groups that the AfCFTA would hurt the economy, which was battling a recession.

It was therefore heart warming when the president recently disclosed that he would be signing the phase one of the AfCFTA. The president’s decision followed the report of the Presidential Committee on the Impact and Readiness Assessment of the AfCFTA. The committee was set up to review the issues that had been raised about the agreement, primary among which was that it had the potential to make Nigeria a dumping ground on the continent.

Presenting the report, committee chairman, Dr. Desmond Guobadia, had remarked that “Our reports show that on the balance, Nigeria should consider joining the AfCFTA, and using the opportunity of the ongoing AfCFTA Phase one negotiations to secure the necessary safeguards required to ensure that our domestic policies and programmes are not compromised.”

While we note that the country needs to consider the AfCFTA carefully, we consider it crucial to economic development and fully endorse it, especially in view of the projection by the the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa that it could increase trade between African countries by about $35 billion, representing more than 50 per cent growth from the current figures. Nigeria cannot afford to exempt from a treaty that holds huge potentials for it, in view if its size, population and position on the continent.

To ensure that businesses in Nigeria benefit from the AfCFTA, we call on the Nigerian government to eliminate barriers such as multiple taxation, epileptic power supply and other issues that make the business environment hostile to operators, to make the businesses truly competitive within the continent and also ensure strict compliance with all trade regulations in the country to guard against dumping.

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Peter Obi Promises to Change the Country for the Better

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Presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi has asked Nigerians to hold him accountable if a new Nigeria fails to emerge with him as president.

Obi threw the challenge in Abakaliki on Friday at his campaign rally.

He pledged to reform Nigeria back from consumption to production.

The LP candidate assured that the country would be restored when most qualified candidates with character, trust and competence were elected.

He maintained that the 2023 general elections must be based on character and not on or and tribe.

“We will offer you a new Nigeria and also secure and unite the country.

“Let no one deceive you with religion or tell you it is their turn. Just vote people that understand governance.

“I am not contesting as an Igbo man, a south-easterner, but as a Nigerian who is most qualified and competent to revive the country,’’ Obi said.

He commended the people of Ebonyi for their solidarity and support for the Labour Party.

He urged the electorate to vote for Mr Edward Nkwegu, the gubernatorial candidate of LP in Ebonyi to build a better nation.

In his remarks, National Chairman of Labour Party, Mr Julius Abure, appreciated the people of Ebonyi for their show of solidarity, support and commitment to the party.

Abure said the LP would produce most intelligent and credible candidates to fight poverty and insecurity in the country. (NAN)

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Alia Polls 219,009 at  APC Governorship Re-run in Benue 

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From David Torough, Makurdi

Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia has again, won the gubernatorial primary rerun election conducted by the Sen. Bashir Lado led rerun committee. 

Alia polled a total number of 219,002 to defeat 12 other aspirants to emerge winner.

Recall, that the court of appeal sitting in Makurdi while delivering judgement in a case filed by one of the gubernatorial aspirants, Prof.

Terhemba Shija directed the party to conduct a primary re-run election in eleven(11) local government areas of the state.

While announcing the result at the APC Secretariat Makurdi, which also served as the collation Centre for the rerun, Sen. Lado, Chairman of Benue State Rerun Election Committee stated that the primary election rerun which was won by Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Alia was not only free, fair and credible but represented the wishes of  APC members in Benue State.

Chairman of the party in the State, Comrade Augustine Agada while commending APC members in the state for a peaceful primary election, thanked them for their show of maturity during the rerun and termed the results of the election as no victor no vanquish, explaining that the winner in the election is not only Fr. Alia but for the entire Benue APC family.

In a good will message, Amb. Prof. Stephen Ugba who spoke on behalf of party Stakeholders, commended Benue APC for a successful exercise and called on all those who participated in the primary election to see themselves as winners. 

The party immediately after the declaration of results went into a Special Congress to ratify the primary elections. 

The Congress unanimously ratified and adopted Rev. Fr. Dr Hyacinth Alia as the candidate of APC  Benue state for the position of governor.

The Special Congress was attended by members of the State Executive Committee of the party, Critical Stakeholders, teeming members of the APC in Benue state and members of the press.

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Man Slumps, Dies At FCMB Bank In Rivers

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Man has allegedly slumped and died in front of a branch of the First City Monument Bank at Ikwerre Road, Mile 1, Rivers Stateon Tuesday.

The man’s death, according, to a Twitter user, Dokubo, Kenneth Promise #EndSARS, who posted it on his Twitter handle @dokubo_kenneth, was due to frustration resulting from hostile treatment meted out on him by the customer service officials of the bank.

According to the report, the man (whose name was withheld) had been trying to withdraw money but could not, as the bank asked him to do an affidavit in order to have access to his money.

Dokubo further said the victim went with his next of kin to the bank as judicial workers had been on strike, jeopardising any process of swearing an affidavit.

Man dies at @MyFCMB in Port Harcourt due to frustration and unfriendly treatment by the customer service attendants of a bank,” Dokubo tweeted.

 

The man was said to have been vomiting and begging having been in the queue for five hours before he collapsed and died.

“An eyewitness at the scene of the incident disclosed that a man who hails from Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, a customer of (First City Monument Bank) FCMB died in front of the bank.

“He was refused access to his own money since Friday even when he came with his next of kin. He was asked to go to the court to get an affidavit knowing the court is not in session.

“Narrating the event, she added, ‘The man was vomiting and at the same time begging for him to have access to his own money yet he was denied. After he was left unattended to for more than 5 hours, he just died now a few minutes ago at FCMB, Education Bus Stop, Ikwerre Road, Mile 1, she said,’” Dokubo reported on Twitter.

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