LAGOS – Based on various security challenges facing the country at the moment, stakeholders in the agricultural sector have expressed mixed reactions on how they think insecurity might affect the effectiveness of Nigeria in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
While some of the stakeholders in separate interviews with DAILY INDEPENDENT argued that the security situation would not have any negative impact on seamless trading among members AfCFTA which commenced on January 1, 2021.
Some were of the view that other countries also have their security challenge while some were of the opinion that rising rate of insecurity in the country at the moment would negatively impact on seamless trading in line with the agreement reached.
Arc Kabir Ibrahim, National President All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), in his own view said the AfCFTA is quite safe for the participants because it is regulated and protected, stressing that the insecurity could affect the producers of food items and harvests but not processed items in transit.
“We have not heard or seen truckloads of goods being waylaid and ransacked anywhere in Nigeria. To contemplate that the AfCFTA will be in jeopardy due to the banditry and kidnappings in some regions of Nigeria is being very pessimistic.
Ibrahim said Nigeria will definitely benefit from the free market and every Nigerian should look forward to the derivable benefits instead of being despondent.
Henry Olatujoye, Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), stated that every country today has security challenges ranging from banditry, insurgency and terrorism that the security challenges will always be there in various form.
“While we are doing our best to resolve it, it will not affect whatever we want to achieve as a member nation in AfCFTA. Trades sometimes thrive with or without security challenges. What we need to do is to be proactive towards our security challenge while at the same time following the principle and criteria of the trade as agreed,” he said.
On the other hand, John Bede-Anthonio in his own view said: “Very soon, no one will want to do business in Nigeria because of the security risk like Somali, stating that unless the government disbands the Nigeria Customs as constituted”.
Also, Foluso Adams, Secretary of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Lagos State Chapter said the insecurity situation in the country will affect Nigeria negatively.
“Where there is hostility and tension the people live in fear and nobody will want to come out and no operations whatsoever can take place there, so doing business or trading in whatever format will be a mirage and impossible,” he said.
According to Prince Wale Oyekoya, an Agribusiness Strategist, the security of citizens is a fundamental function of any sane and serious government to safeguard and protect the human rights of his citizens and occupants and failure to do this will turn the country into anarchy where citizens and tribes have to carry arms to defend themselves.
He said lack of adequate security is already affecting local and foreign investors as there is no amount of money worth risking the life of investors.
“It is evident that no region is safe in Nigeria right now and it calls for concern. Boko Haram is ravaging the North East and North West while the herders are everywhere killing farmers and innocent travelers; kidnapping is now more profitable to the evil doers perpetrating the crime.
“Where are the federal, state and local governments that are supposed to safeguard the citizens? They felt unconcerned because they have hijacked all the security apparatus for their personal use. Even thugs have police or army assigned to them at the detriment of Nigeria citizens.
Oyekoya noted that members of AfCFTA will think twice before doing business in Nigeria not to even talk of the foreign investors from the Western countries.
He opined that solution will not come from the new service chiefs as they are human beings.
“Don’t expect them to perform wonders with the political interference from the ruling class. Corruption will play its role by gulping half of the defence budgets into some private pockets. Community policing will be better off than the security arrangements we have now in the country,” he said.