ByÂ Senator IroegbuÂ inÂ Abuja
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), has warned the Federal Government against signing the African free trade agreement, describing it as a neo-liberal policy.Â
Â The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a statement yesterday, said the policy initiative, for instance, would make it possible for a foreign airline to directly do local scheduled flights without employing Nigerians.Â
“There is a renewed, extremely dangerous and radioactive neo-liberal policy initiative being driven by the Ministry of Trade and Investment that seeks to open our seaports, airports and other businesses to unbridled foreign interference never before witnessed in the history of the country,” Wabba said.
He said that owing to the sensitivity of this policy or its possible fall-outs on our economy, those driving it were directed to consult the Nigerian local business community and organised labour. Â
He however, noted that the organised labour were not consulted.Â
Â He stated: “Information reaching us suggests that the relevant business community has not been consulted.Â
“The drivers of this policy initiative, without consulting the relevant stake holders for possible impact assessment, have perfected a document for the signature of President Muhammadu Buhari at Kigali on the 21 of March.Â
“We at the Nigeria Labour Congress are shocked by the sheer impunity or blatant lack of consultation in the process that has led to this.Â
“We are more worried by the probable outcome of this policy initiative if it is given life because of its crippling effect on the local businesses and attendant effects on jobs.Â
Â “We find it confounding that at a time nations, including the United States are resorting to protectionism in defence of their local businesses and protection of jobs, we have the audacity to want to fling open our doors, windows and roof tops. Â
“We have no doubt this policy initiative will spell the death knell of the Nigerian economy.Â
“Accordingly, we urge Mr. President not to sign this agreement either in Kigali or anywhere.Â
“We believe our national interest is at stake and nothing should be done to compromise this.Â
“The African Continental Free Trade Agreement rather than unite Africa, will only divide it the more; rather than enrich Africa will only pauperise it the more,” he added.Â
Wabba said those pulling the strings of what he described asÂ radioactive agreement were somewhere, well concealed and protected in the metropoles of the world.Â
According to him, they have had this all thought-out and profits computed well ahead.
The NLC President said faces seen driving this process in Nigeria, nay, Africa, were mere puppets on a string, the familiar messengers, eager to do the biddings of their Masters for percentage cuts.
He said the tragedy of it all, however, was that they always leave the people to carry the burden, the burden that comes with hunger, poverty, disease, debt over hang, social strife and wars and more dependency.
Wabba said there was no doubt the country had need of foreign investment, but in the union’s view, such investment should not be a poisoned chalice.
“So, once again, we urge Mr. President not to sign the agreement,” he added.