President Muhammadu Buhari has finally signed the Free Trade agreement to join Nigeria into the body of countries that are part of African continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The signing comes several months after the Nigerian leader initially refused to sign the agreement which has already been signed by about 52 other African countries.
Buhari signed the treaty in the presence of other Heads of State and Government as well as delegates attending the 12th Summit of the African Union on launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA.
In a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari declared that Nigeria’s commitment to trade and African integration have never been in doubt nor was it ever under threat.
He told the Summit that Nigeria will build on the event by proceeding expeditiously with the ratification of the AfCFTA.
‘‘As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hardworking population.
‘‘I wish to assure you, that Nigeria shall sustain its strong leadership role in Africa, in the implementation of the AfCFTA. We shall also continue to engage, constructively with all African countries to build the Africa that we want,’’ President Buhari said.
Also Ghana has being selected to host the Secretariat of the AfCFTA which the president congratulate them for.
Nigeria became the 53rd state to sign the agreement but such commitment is also expected of Benin Republic today. AU trade commissioner, Albert Muchanga, had on Friday disclosed that Benin had also confirmed it will sign up in Niamey today.
President Buhari stated further: ‘‘I have just had the honour of signing the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), on behalf of my country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘‘This is coming over a year since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for signature in Kigali, Rwanda, at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, on 21st March 2018.
President Buhari noted that Nigeria’s signing of the AfCFTA and its Operational Launch at the 12th Extraordinary Summit was an additional major step. forward on the AU’s Agenda 2063.
With Nigeria and Benin Republic signing the Agreement at the Summit, 54 out of 55 African countries have signed the world’s largest free trade area deal, encompassing 55 countries and 1.2 billion people.
Eritrea is the only African country yet to sign the agreement.
A total of 26 African countries have deposited instruments of ratification, with Gabon being the latest after depositing her instrument of ratification during the Extraordinary Summit.
The AfCFTA Agreement entered into force on May 30, 2019 thirty days after having received the twenty-second instrument of ratification on 29 April, 2019 in conformity with legal provision.