Africa News24 (AN24) reports that Obasanjo made this call at the ongoing 2019 Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on Thursday, June 20 in Moscow, Russia.
The former president said Nigeria had no justifiable reason for not signing an agreement as crucial as the ACFT agreement which countries like Eritrea, Niger and even Benin that were our neighbours had already signed.
According to him: “I don’t think there is any confusion. I was talking to somebody in government in Nigeria not long ago, he said we would be like a sleeping giant and when a sleeping giant wakes up he will surprise everybody.
“I believe we have enjoyed the time of delay but of course we have no choice than to sign it.
“I do hope that sincerely before the formal inauguration in Niamey on July 7 and 8, that Nigeria will not be absent at the launching because I see no reason why Nigeria can be present when it has not signed the agreement.
“If you heard the statement of Nigeria’s Permanent Secretary, you have nothing in a statement more beautiful than that, but he is not a policymaker, he is a policy executor.
“Now, he will go home and tell the policymakers that he has made the right statement and it’s now right for action. I hope after he says that, they will follow through,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Politics and Economic Affairs, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Gabriel Aduda had said the country would soon sign the AFCTA.
He said the country was putting in place some protective steps before signing the agreement.
While speaking on the government’s plan to sign the agreement, Aduda said; “With time, Nigeria is going to sign, we have to do like what China did even with the World trade agreement – they gave a condition and that is what we are going to do and you have to look at the size of your market.
“You do not expect a country like Nigeria to be given the same size of cake with a country like the Gambia even though we are all in Africa, it doesn’t work like that because Gambia is just like a local government in Nigeria.
“We need to understand how these things work and we should also understand one thing that behind all these trade issues – the barriers, the policies, the rules, and everything – are the big players behind the masquerades- who are the former colonial masters.
“You cannot just go ahead and enter into an agreement with neighboring nations without looking at who is standing behind that nation; how are you going to protect yourself.
“Even though we need a free and fair deal, but how also do we protect ourselves to ensure that we do not just become a dumping ground.
“These are some of the issues we are looking at the moment. Absolutely, we are coming back to the table to say this is what we want.”