The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has lamented that some public commentators are making wrong assertions about government policies and contributing to public misunderstanding.
This the Vice President noted on Friday, while also calling on academics to be more engaged in shaping public opinion.
According to a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo made the submission while delivering his keynote address at the 61st annual conference of the Nigerian Economic Society with the theme, ‘African Continental Free Trade Area in post COVID-19 era: What next for Nigeria?’
He said, “I find it every often that some public commentators make assertions that have no basis in economic theory or practice, and because they dominate the public space, they contribute to public misunderstanding of economic principles and their application to public policy.
“Some of you should take up the gauntlet and help to shape an informed and reasoned national discourse on the economy.”
Speaking specifically on the merits and demerits of the AfCFTA agreement, Prof. Osinbajo noted that the agreement should not be seen as a magic wand that can solve all economic and trade challenges in the continent.
He however noted that African countries must maximize the benefits of the agreement.
In his words, “One important objective of the AfCFTA is to overcome the economic fragmentation of the continent by bringing the regional economic blocs together in a common arrangement.
“This being the case, African countries should look to negotiating trade treaties with other parts of the world on the basis of AfCFTA rather than through arbitrarily designed regional blocs.
“African countries should not allow themselves to be lured into arrangements which do not serve their long-term development objectives.
“We must, of course, continue to bear in mind, especially here in Nigeria that the AfCFTA is not a magic wand that automatically brings about growth and prosperity.”
Osinbajo however warned that if not properly implemented, the AfCFTA can expose Nigeria’s economy to sharp and unfair trade practices from other countries of the continent.
“The reality is that if care is not taken, trade liberalization can expose the Nigerian economy to unfair competition and sharp trade practices, with adverse consequences for our producers who might have to close down their businesses, and for our workers who would then lose their jobs,” the Vice President noted.