* Calms nerves of members at PH AGM
* As Rivers/Bayelsa chapter calls for ‘state of emergency in manufacturing’, now
By Codratus Godson
The national leadership of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the body that stopped the Federal government from signing the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTA), has, in Port Harcourt, appealed to its fretting members to calm down over the signing of the pact by President Muhammadu Buhari in the week in Niamey, Niger Republic.
MAN president, Mansur Ahmed said the Federal Government did carry out an all-inclusive nationwide consultation and just like MAN, conducted a country-specific study on the potential impact of AfCFTA. “In addition, the Government set up a Presidential Steering Committee on Impact and Readiness Assessment of the AfCFTA.
“MAN said it actively participated at the Steering Committee level as well as the Technical Working Group. It was based on the outcome of these processes that the President appended his signature at the just concluded Extra-ordinary Session of the African Union.
The MAN president, who spoke at the 35th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Rivers/Bayelsa chapter, assured that critical care was taken by the Federal Government to reduce the suspected areas of harm to Nigerian manufacturers.
Ahmed reminded the members that it was MAN that pressured Buhari against signing AfCTA in March 2018, saying steps were taken to mitigate the harmful side.
He rather encouraged MAN members to brace up for a beneficial business operation in the unfolding continental market. “This will only be possible if we optimize our processes and innovate to compete effectively with our contemporaries in the other countries. Of course, we shall work together to prevail on the Government to do its own bit by providing the conducive atmosphere.”
The president who came into office last year reminded the members that it was MAN that insisted that the FG should first undertake extensive consultation with all key stakeholders in the economy and carry out necessary empirical studies to assess the potential impact on the economy and especially the manufacturing sector with a view to identifying not only the opportunities but also the risks that would arise from the AfCFTA.
He said; “This, we believe, is necessary to determine the policies and strategies that must be put in place to mitigate the risks and exploit the opportunities.”
Ahmed said: “I have given the above background in order to douse the apprehension of some of our members and to assure all that we have the commitment of Government to enhance the capacity of the manufacturing sector to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in the continental free trade area and to, quite importantly, mitigate the multifarious risks. We expect that MAN would be part of the national structures and processes that would be put in place by the Federal Government to manage the process.
The branch chairman, Adawari Michael Pepple, said AfCTA would not be competitive, when eastern seaports are not revived to operate optimally. He specifically called for the revamping of Onne, Port-Harcourt, Warri and Calabar ports.
Pepple speaking on the theme of the event tagged ‘ Redeeming our economic potentials through manufacturing,” said every state in the country should have an industrial cluster. He also called for a state of emergency to be declared in the nation’s manufacturing sector.
He appealed to Governments at all levels to make it a policy to buy Nigerian goods and grow the industries, the economy and the Naira, assuring that MAN as an association has a commitment to quality and high standards which can be attested by SON, NAFDAC and other regulatory authorities.