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Nigerian lawmakers boycott ECOWAS deliberation on border closure

Community Parliament lawmakers from Nigeria boycotted a delocalized meeting on Wednesday, November 5, 2020 in the Republic of Benin, Cotonou where joint the Committees on Administration, Finance and Budget, Macroeconomic Police and Economic Research, Public Account, Trade Customs and Free Movement is ongoing.
   
The meeting examined the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Cross Border issues and trade challenges. Their absence however, did not impede the meeting.  
 
The nine-member delegation from Nigeria included Mohammed Ali Ndume, Haruna Maitala Ibrahim, Saidu Alkali, Taiwo Musibau Kolawole, Emmanuel Bwacha, Michael C. Umeoji, Francis Alimikhena, Abdullahi Sankara Danladi and Murtala Isah.  

There was no Nigerian present to contribute to issues discussed for the day, where every member country on the joint Committee gave critical views on progress on the sub-region.  
 
Debate on the viability of implementing the agreement at the ECOWAS Parliament delocalized joint Committee meeting, however considered the readiness of the sub-region to make progress in this regard amid intervening variables like; currency difference, national consciousness among others.
   
The deliberation bothered on challenges, prospects of a borderless Africa in a period in time of terrorism and insecurity, pandemic and protectionism centered on underlying concerns that must be addressed before AfCFTA agreement can be implemented.  

In addition, Community lawmakers wanted issues on fragmented market, difference in cross-border communication cost, daunting transportation system, effective settlement of disputes arising from commercial investment and business relations among others to be addressed by the agreement.  
   
Secretary General of AfCFTA Wamkele Mene noted that the timely ratification of the agreement is a must; as it has a capacity of lifting thirty million people out of extreme poverty, sixty million from moderate poverty by 2035 and increase real income gain by 70 percent.   

Inclusivity, shared benefits, growth and improved negotiations were also considered as major aspects of AfCFTA that parliamentarians will take up with National Assemblies of member states to enable them ratify the Free Trade agreement.    

ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Tei Konzi noted that restriction on land border movement of goods is what is at stake and not people. 

“The border closure in question is that of land borders of Nigeria; as soon as the Nigeria border closed, all countries on the Abidjan-Lagos corridor were affected. Nigeria was also affected within especially importers of raw materials”, he said.      

Mr. Konzi further pointed out that, Nigeria complained mainly about trafficking and invasion of non-community smuggled rice through its borders as a cause of the destabilization of its agriculture policy and the country’s heavy investment in rice production.

Again, petroleum products were smuggled through the borders as it has become a matter of serious concern to member-states. 
   
Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

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