Monday, 19 March 2018

Buhari Cancels Rwanda Trip At The Last Minute

President Muhammadu Buhari has abruptly cancelled his scheduled trip to Kigali, Rwanda on Monday where he had been billed to join other African leaders to sign the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement on Wednesday in pursuit of the African Union (AU) 2063 vision.

There was no official information on the reason for the cancellation saturday as some members of the president’s advance team had already arrived Kigali before the cancellation while others were yet at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport when information on the cancellation got to them.

Confirming the cancellation last night, a member of the second team said that he was just alighting in his house from the vehicle which conveyed him from the airport. According to him, they were suddenly recalled from the airport without any reason.

“I’m just coming down from the vehicle that brought me from the airport. No reason was given yet for the cancellation,” he said.

The sudden cancellation looked shocking in view of the celebration of the planned trip by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, while briefing journalists in the State House, had said FEC approved in its meeting of Wednesday that Nigeria should sign the agreement, pointing out that the president would be in Kigali on Wednesday to sign the agreement.

He also said FEC resolved that Nigeria should bid for the location of the secretariat of CFTA in view of Nigeria’s outstanding roles during the negotiation process.

“In terms of what was approved in council today, the council approved for Nigeria to sign that agreement establishing CFTA in Kigali on March 21 which will be signed by our president at an extraordinary session of the AU. It also approved for Nigeria to express an interest in preparing a bid to host the secretariat where the work will be done.

“Nigeria has played a leadership role in the negotiations. Our chief negotiator and director-general of the Nigerian office for trade negotiations was the chairperson of the negotiating technical team.

“Also the African Ministers for Trade and Group was chaired by myself and so, if they played a leading role in this negotiation, we feel that it is better to lead than to follow. Therefore, we also got an approval to express an interest in the secretariat of CFTA, that the headquarters be located in Nigeria. Obviously, we are expecting it to be a competitive process but Nigeria will be interested.

“We also got an approval for the Nigerian office for trade negotiations along ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and the private sector to work together and continue with the next stage of the negotiation. The first stage is the overall framework establishing CFTA. The next is the protocol on trade in goods and associated annexes; also a protocol on trade in services and finally, the protocol on rules and procedures for the settlement of disputes,” Enelamah said.

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