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AfCFTA opportunities and Northern governors’ profligacy



Northern Governors


By Alhassan A. Bala

The African Continental Free Trade Area is an initiative of the African Union and Head of States and Governments of all African countries, to ease movement of goods and services within the continent for the development of the continental economy.

At the initial stage, Nigeria, which happens to be the major market block, having been the most populous country in the continent and 6th in the world, refused to sign the initiative rendering it on the brink of death.

But following the intervention of the African Union and many other leaders, president Muhammadu Buhari after getting advice from his own-constituted economic experts and analysts, decided to make the historic signature, when Nigeria’s benefits were laid bare.

Based on THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA aims and objectives, the initiative is DETERMINED to strengthen African economic relationship and build upon the continental respective rights and obligations under the Constitutive Act of the African Union of 2000, the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community of 1991 and, where applicable, the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organisation of 1994;The ACFTA HAVING REGARD to the aspirations of Agenda 2063 for a continental market with the free movement of persons, capital, goods and services, which are crucial for deepening economic integration, and promoting agricultural development, food security, industrialisation and structural economic transformation; it is also part of the objective to promote and attain sustainable and inclusive social and economic development and structural transformation of the State Parties; To further enhance the competitiveness of the economies of State Parties within the continent and at the global market; The AfCFTA will also promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, Agricultural Development and Food Security; and Benefits of AfCFTA The cornerstone of the AfCFTA is promotion of industrialization, sustained growth and development in Africa. The agreement is being pursued based on its potential to “boost intra-African trade, stimulate investment and
innovation, foster structural transformation, improve food security, enhance economic growth and export diversification, and rationalize the overlapping trade regimes of the main regional economic communities”
(AU-ECA-AfDB 2017).

The African CFTA is expected to increase intra-African trade by up to 52.3% as a result of tari reductions, rising to potentially doubling intra-African trade if non-tari barrier and trade facilitation are also addressed (Mevel and Karingi 2013).

It is estimated that additional implications of improved trade facilitation between African countries using a database on trade costs could result in the doubling of intra-African trade. Real wages are estimated to increase for unskilled workers in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, as well as for skilled workers, and there is a small shift in employment expected from agricultural to non-agricultural sectors.

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Part of TRADE, GROWTH AND MONETARY BENEFITS OF AFCFTA Key concerns driving the resistance to the AfCFTA is whether the expected gains will be realized without sufocating african struggling industries.

This is also tied to the theoretical argument of whether trade agreements lead to trade creation or trade diversion. The fear of losing the supposed protection of less-competitive domestic producers operating in inclement business environment underscores the opposition from trade unions.

But liberalization, usually through a Schumpeterian-type process of disrupting and recreating at a larger scale, brings about economic benefits that far outweigh the short-term costs. This is even more e ective with global trade which provides added incentives for competition and innovation as well as the continuous search for new
opportunities and markets.

With a fully conceptualized agenda, Nigeria has joined eventually and all the states of the federation are expected to bring about their potentials and also show interest in joining the initiative.

Let me come back to the core issue in Nigeria with regards to the AfCFTA. The national action committee on AfCFTA headed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, unfortunately has no northerner as a member.

Does that mean there is no single qualified economic expert in the north that can also be in this crucial committee? No wonder when it comes to economic development the northern states are always at the bottom of the list.

The north has the highest potentials of making Nigeria to benefit from the trade agreement. For example, the north-west, alone, has land borders with Niger Republic, while the north -east with Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon. For the North-central it is Cameroon and Benin Republic through.

If you cast a critical look at the AfCFTA objectives the north have more than enough potentials of participanting in the initiative as the region has the highest market population; it is also the region with agricultural main stay and leading in the drive towards food security in the country.

Recently, the AfCFTA National Action Committee chairman, Adebayo, has been touring the south -west governors, exploring and discussing the opportunities as well as delibarating with focus on implementation of the agreement, despite the fact that those states have equal or even far less than potentials compired to their counterparts in the north.

Where are the northern governors? Are they missing in action on this? Is it that the committee decided to sideline them or it is their normal nonchalant attitude towards development?

Even as at now the minister is yet to pay such a visit to any northern state to discuss such matter, despite the fact that they are the major actors in this aspect.

With the recent development, I can personally say northern leaders both in ruling and opposition parties are more concerned about their political interests instead of what their people will explore and benefits in the future.

Come to think of it, who among the 19 northern governors can now look, understand and express his interest by inviting the committee?

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, whose attention is now solely on becoming the next president? Or is it Abdulrahman Abdukrazak of Kwara who is facing political battle in his party and the opposition? Or is it Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina that is battling kidnappers and bandits and then busy buying dogs to protect school children? Or is it Darius Ishiaku of Taraba who is battling with his health? Or it his neighbour, Samuel Ortom who is always on national TV shouting herdsmen and obviously obsessed with Fulanis?

Will you single out the workaholic Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno, who is always on the road for his people? Or is it Bala Muhammad of Bauchi who is preoccupied with the second tenure dream and going round for next political ambition? Or is it Adamawa state governor Ahmad Fintiri who is seeking to return for second tenure against all the odds? Or is it Yahaya Bello of Kogi who is now intending to contest for the president, and always on national TV denying the reality of Covid-19?

Is it Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger state who is facing threat of bandits, yet curve out time to travel abroad to watch his dream football team? Or is it Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano who focuses on building more flyovers in Kano city to eclipse his predecessor and political enemy? Will you tell me of Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa state, who is looking at the possibility of relocating Hadejia over flooding? Or is it Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state who visits his state four times a month? Or is it Simon Lalong of Plateau state who is trying to prevent tribal crisis? Or is it Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa whose state is having issue of emerging terrorists groups? Or is it Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi whose concern is unity of APC governors, or is it Bello Matawalle of Zamfara, whose state is under no flying zone? Or is it Nasiru El-Rufa’i who is sacking workers and facing bandits? Or is it Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe whose limelight comes only during Mai Tangale crisis?

The northern governors’ focus for now seem to be only on how they can sustain their political carrier or relevance, and relegating policies that will increase the socio-economic development of their respective states, which will translate to bringing an end to the insecurity affecting the region.

While writing this, I was wondering that the situation around the AfCFTA national committee was the other way round: as in just imagine that the committee was full of northerners without single southern representative, won’t the cyber space be full of cries and hues?

It is important for the northern governors to understand and appreciate that the region is currently facing serious security, economic challenges and the level of unemployment among youths in the region is at a record high, which the governors and other relevant individuals must do all they could to provide opportunities for them, as there is a strong relationship between economy and security.

They need to also ensure that they invite the committee and equally work in the north with a view to fully participating and benefiting from the agreement.

Alhassan A. Bala
Is an Abuja-Based Broadcast journalist, writes this from Abuja and can be reached on balahassan2007@gmail.com





President Bola Ahmad Tinubu


By Prof Muhd Sani Umar R/Lemo

October 30, 2023.

In the name of Allāh, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. We are immensely grateful to Him for sparing our lives, and giving us the health and wherewithal to live to this moment.

There is no doubt that people are complaining about the rising cost of living, poverty and inflation that we are facing in the country. This is the reason why we will keep drawing the attention of our leaders to the burden of the masses resting on their shoulders. Indeed this leadership is a voluntary task that they acceded to bear; not a mere honour and privilege given them nor an opportunity for their personal pleasure and luxury. Rather, they have been entrusted with the responsibility of the millions of people under them; a trust that will surely be accounted for before Allāh SWT. He says in the Qur’ān:
“And fulfil (every) covenant. Verily, the covenant will be questioned about.” [Al-Isrā’:34]

Therefore it is the responsibility of the leaders to map ways to alleviate the distressing hardship people are currently facing in the country. Although it is known that Allah SWT is the provider of wealth and sustenance, but His provision is subject to the responsibility and role an individual plays in realizing it. When the leaders neglect to play those roles, they will be responsible for the situation it will result in.

It is important for our leaders to know and understand that one of the important pillars of leadership is the protection of lives, health, faith, wealth, property and honor of the people being governed.

Insecurity is still one of the most serious issues we are facing, although we have witnessed some of our governors making good efforts in that regard. It is our hope that all governors will join hands with the federal government and try their best, while we continue to pray for Allah’s divine help in solving the problem. We are confident in His promise that:
“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways.” [Al-‘Ankabūt:69]

Our economy is continuously deteriorating, and the masses are plunging deeper into hardship. It is the duty of the government to find ways to ease the lives of the people. Taking actions that will further sink the masses into misery is tantamount to falling into the first category of the people in the prayers of the Prophet SAW that:
“O Allah, whoever is in charge of the affairs of my nation and is harsh on them, then be harsh on him, and whoever is in charge of the affairs of my nation and is kind to them, then be kind to him.” [Muslim:3/1828]
Every Muslim should hope to be part of the latter and away from the former category.

It is common knowledge that one of the fundamental sources of ease of doing business is the freedom to traverse between places in search of livelihood. Allah says in the Qur’ān:
“He it is Who has made the earth subservient to you; so walk in its paths and eat of His provision.” [Al-Mulk:15]
In another verse He says:
“He has known that there will be among you those who are ill and others travelling throughout the land seeking [something] of the bounty of Allāh” [Al-Muzzammil:20]
And He also says:
“And when the (Juma’ah) prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allāh.” [Al-Jumu‘ah:10]

Thus, to travel between one place to another is a means of seeking from the riches Allah SWT endowed the world with. Hence, giving people the freedom to traverse borders in search of things that are beneficial to them and the society is part of the rights accorded to them by Allah SWT, and preventing them from doing so is denying them that divine right for which they will have to account in front of Allah.

Recently, the federal government announced that it had directed for the opening of land borders, and lifted the ban on importation of some foods and other products needed by our people.

This measure will surely boost the commercial viability of the nation, because import and export of goods and services between societies is one of the basic transactional norms in human lives.

Unfortunately, despite the directive from the Federal Governtment, while the southern borders remain freely accessible, land borders on the northern part of the country, are still closed. This means that the respite this measure will bring to the nation will not be enjoyed by the northern people. The Nigeria-Niger border plays a vital role in the socioeconomic well-being of the Northern states, and its continued closure has dealt a heavy blow to commercial activities on both sides. Thus, persistence of this measures means that the Northern part of the country is being alienated from their national entitlement.

Yes, the recent coup in Niger Republic has been cited as the reason for taking this drastic action. Neither the people of the North nor the Nigerien people played a role in the execution of the said coup, therefore it is not right to punish either for someone else’s wrongdoing. Also, two wrongs can never make a right.
Furthermore, this coup is not the first coup that took place in an African nation nor the West African states. Yet this measure taken by our government has not been taken elsewhere in similar cases. The illegitimacy of the coup should not be an excuse to take a measure that will consequently punish the northern region. The best way to attain justice is rectify any wrongdoing through rightful means.
Similarly, it is important to remind our leaders that protecting the interest and well-being of our nation is superior to the protection of any external interest beside it. It is apparent that the border closure may be a strategy to compel the military government into submission, may serve or protect an external interest vested by some countries elsewhere and some regional bodies, but none of these interested parties experience any part of the resultant hardship.

In conventional norms, all external interests that are in conflict with our national interest should not be entertained. It is not right for the government to punish its citizens for that interest’s sake.

Therefore, we are calling on our the Federal government to act swiftly; our northern leaders, legislators, ministers and elders should speak out on this issue and draw the attention of the federal government to the wrongs being committed against an innocent people. It’s their duty to repeatedly speak on this issue, organise conferences and meet the relevant authorities involved in order to find a solution. We are living in a society where your rights are easily denied if your voice of resistance is not loudly heard. We must collectively rise, speak out, write and meet relavent stakeholders on our problems. When southern land borders remain open and their markets thrive, our northern borders that boost our economy should not remain closed putting our markets and populace into hardship.

Our leaders should be aware of their responsibility and the consequences of their actions which will all be adjudged before Allah SWT.

The Prophet SAW narrated the story of a woman who tied her cat indoors, without feeding it or allowing it to forage for food until it died, which led her to abide in the hell fire [Reported by Muslim:4/2243]

If this is the ramification of her action towards a cat, what then will be the consequence of blocking millions of people from their rightful means of livelihood without provision of another relief? For a life of a single human being in the eyes of Allah is far more precious than that of a cat. He (SWT) says: “And indeed We have honoured the Children of Adam.” [Al-Isrā’:70]

In the end we will all return to Allah SWT and stand before Him to account for our actions after this ephemeral life. “Say ‘The enjoyment of this world is little.ʼ” [An-Nisā’:77]
Our faith, religion, and nationalism should motivate us to do what is right.

(Note: This article was originally from a recorded program in Hausa transcribed and translated to English for wider circulation)

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The ECOWAS-NIGER WAR, “STILL BOOTING”? By Haruna Adamu Hadejia



Haruna Adamu Hadejia


The republic of Niger has become a point of reference in these days, probably as a new world “laboratory” for sovereignty test. It has shown the world that African countries are beginning to resist the western powers’ long and assumed perpetual dictatorship. Many people around the world have defined the republic of Niger and Africa in general as paupers until recently.
Lately, France shuns the ultimatum given by Military Junta in Niger for france’s envoy to exit. One wonders, why did they want to stick? While on one hand, the ECOWAS seems to be booting (undecided) on the possibility of; strike or not to strike. The hypothesis (Ho) and (H1) on the war remain unclear while sanction is quietly working in Niger with some adverse effect on both Niger and specifically north western part of Nigeria largely on economy.

Many people postulates that the ECOWAS formation in (1975) was facilitated by the western world just to protect their interest; get advice and decisions from them and simply implement what they want. Many were of the opinion that even the ultimatum given by ECOWAS to Niger was engineered by the western world.

The worrying issue before the western world and ECOWAS in particular in my opinion is that, they have not yet found genuine coefficient of staging war as they intended to do. Why? Because the citizens of Niger not necessarily the MILITARY simply say “NO, allow us to solve our own problems” coupled with the brethren support from neighboring African nations around Niger such as Mali. This coalition really angers the west and the 11 countries out of 15 in ECOWAS. Niger also gained additional sympathy from other parts of the world and has this has opened up a platform for all nations to rediscover or re-trace their independence.
It was reported that, the Presidents of Egypt and Algeria advised the ECOWAS not to venture into war. They have the bitter experience of what it takes to be at war front, they still have some left over of such happenings in their countries.

Our President is of course, at the center of ECOWAS BEING ITS CURRENT Chair and also the President of Nigeria which is well respected in the world. However, with the present on-going rancor in Niger we are beginning to respectfully shrink in the eyes of some nations especially our close friend, Niger who respects us more than any nation in the world. But today, the algorithm has changed. Citizens of Niger knew only Nigeria not ECOWAS. Should anything happen to the citizens, their fingers will only point at Nigerians being their brothers and not the whole of ECOWAS. How do we recover such respect and prevent further spill of the trust they have in us??

As postulated in my last publication of August 5 by Kano online Times, the giant nations have other ways to deal with ECOWAS in the event that the war didn’t take place. One of them has started coming up; the world bank is threatening to freeze the accounts of ECOWAS if they couldn’t execute this war. Possible compressing of foreign Aids to ECOWAS, introduction of some strong financial and economic policies on ECOWAS, or what?

Again, what would it look like now that, Prigozhin the leader of private security Wagner organization of Kremlin is dead? This is someone that was smelled to be in Africa to contract the war before his death. Will the US, France and their allies have a dinner for having at least one their blockages being removed? Similarly, what is Putin going to do differently now that Prigozhin is dead; perhaps become a stronger independent contractor to solely fight for and on behalf of the Niger Junta in the name of “liberation” and love for them while tapping their uranium which they will be willing to sell at lesser proceeds? Yeah, this could aptly be forecast as another opportunity for Putin to cheaply annex Nigeria once kremlin steps into Niger.

My argument is that, all these self-anointed saviors of Africa are truly not to be trusted and must not be trusted. We will only breathe independent air thoroughly if all outsiders can stay clear of Africa and allow us to drive our processes and the possibility of achieving this is only when our leaders fairly lead us.
Recounting from the military takeover of power in Niger up to the time of border closure between Nigeria and Niger, we understand that many states all in the Northern Nigeria are concerned in many ways. Already, the war is subconsciously taking place politically, economically, socially. Recent visit to Maigatari market an export processing zone (border with Niger in Jigawa state) shows how deserted the market is. There is skew negatively of livestock, grains and other products, the mass exodus being witnessed on weekly basis by people from across the federation is evidently a sign of setback. The Machina market (in Yobe state) is equally going down by the day. The same story in Jibiya of Katsina state, the many market stalls are largely scanty because the occupants are no longer using them coupled with the insecurity there and no one to maintain the thatch sheds due to poor turnout of people for commercial activities. Summarily, the IGR of the local governments bordering Niger must have recorded significant losses in this respect.

Socially, it will take time to heal the wound created as a result of such border closure. The brothers and sisters that married from both countries can no longer see or trade with each other, just like South and North Korea, until such a time when the border is opened. What a distress!

At federal level, Nigerians are interested to know how much the country has economically lost from the electricity cut to Niger, custom and excise duty and from other sources such as money markets. Nigeria but North is being tested economically and socially???
The proverbial expression of Pandora must not be allowed to have a pIace in our midst, meaning a source of endless complications or trouble arising from simple miscalculation should not in a haste be used to jeopardize not only historical but sustainable relationship with our neighbor. Let our leaders not subject us to a test tube baby.

Simply, we all understand that ECOWAS is technologically “booting” to come up with alternative measures to handle the situation. After this scenario, what type of punishment will the west introduce to deal with us (citizens) again? I once said that the west, have multiple approaches to handle us perpetually and this must be resisted. This is the scenario Nigeria (Africans) have been subjected. The west is not willing to allow us to rest.

We must see this present circumstance as an attempt to change Africa heritage by the west while the time for resistance by Africans has finally arrived. I wish late Gawo Filinge of Niger, Aminu Kano, Sa’adu Zungur and similar social movers are alive just to analyze the on-going silent sanction on Niger and go back to sleep. Am sure, they will encourage Nigeria-Niger to be strong and endure the struggle. Because the more courage they have, the tendency for becoming greater in future as a result of being resilient.

Unknown to many, this tussle has opened doors of hope for Niger republic such as the need for them to think of generating their own power plant, identify other economic countries for ties to transact business and take advantage of currency swap, rediscover and export their unique mineral (uranium) for foreign exchange, introduce their own currency for trade and also integrate their culture as part of income generating avenue. They can harvest more from their national patriotism as exhibited by the recent solidarity demonstrations enjoyed by the new government from the citizens. On the other hand, Nigeria must intensify efforts to look inward and solidify its strategic path to protect our sovereignty. Though, these processes are quite starving and require sacrifice. Indeed, citizens must sacrifice to get things fixed.

A twitter friend called “Steve” responded to my early post 72 hours ago that, “Nigeria needs to invade asap, do not let Niger become base for Russia to invade Nigeria, Russia and China are coming for control and the gold”. This statement of his made me crazy and had to drop my pen and rest for a while before continued with my memo. If this notion of him is to be interpreted right, then my earlier opinion that we shouldn’t trust any of the “power holders” has been validated.

One nagging issue that keeps bugging some of the progressives around is must we be submissive to them? They just wanted to traced back what they mistakenly left behind during colonization and introduce a new scientific approach of modern colonization.

While “ba’a sauke girki ba”, another country in Africa has just thrown out civilian government in the republic of Gabon, Ali Bongo who has been in power since 2009 after winning third term election on last Saturday’s poll, August 26, 2023.

As am writing this piece, another episode happened in Rwanda a country which just hosted the “capacity building session” for our Nigeria’s Governors last week supported by the UN, with President Paul Kagame in office since year 2000 (23 years) for God’s sake, retires multiple senior army officers including influential General called James Kabarebe shortly after he learnt about military take-over in Gabon. Why is it happening now? Is Paul not sending a signal that he has all been driving wrong? Who influenced him to do this? In the interest of Rwanda which suffered irrecoverable genocide years ago or western interest? All these confusions must be justified by the power that be.

By whatever definition, Africa must not relegate itself in the eyes of the so-called super powers, taking advantage of telling us that we are corrupt while they created, initiated, seed and nurtured the basis for corruption from kindergarten to tertiary level of our political class.

Afterall, all nations can be super. They should be reminded that, if they earlier used a generic template to define all Africans, time has come to review the template after centuries and re-allocate “specific” ledger to each nation.

I come in peace!

Haruna Adamu Hadejia, a journalist and public affairs analyst, wrote this piece from Dutse, Jigawa State.

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Ministerial Nominee’s: Between Fair Proportions and Political Relevance.



Minister Nominees

By Abubakar Sadiq Dauda

I will start with the following highlights:

Deputy Senate President,
Speaker House of Representatives,
National Chairmanship,
5 Senior Ministers,
5 Junior Ministers, were all allocated to the Northwest Geo-political zone, which happens to be the powerhouse of Northern politics.

Kano got the National Chairmanship position which doesn’t add any capital developmental stride to the state or region. That gave birth to the appointment of two of its indigenes as Junior Ministers because the leader of the party in the state is in no position to shout injustice since he graciously accepted a role meant for the North-central bloc.

Kaduna on the other hand, has a Speaker, thus one Ministerial nominee was picked. A fair share if u ask me. However, one of our very best, picked from this very North side (El-Rufai) was frustrated, thus he lost interest. Not his own individual loss, but our own collective loss.

Though at a time, he once said, the only way for the party and the President to pay him for his effort, is to give one of his own (Iyan Zazzau), the office of the speaker, which ought to have gone to the North-central. El-rufai request was graciously honoured. We may cry and wail but agreement is agreement.

Our very own greed and miscalculation will keep consuming us in terms of our relevance politically, and the development of the North as a whole. Once the Northwest lost relevance and control, the entire North will be on its knees.

Certainly, we were not shortchanged, we got outsmarted, that has always been the case whenever power shifts to the South.

Morally, the North got its own fair share. Politically, it got nailed, yet again!

Sadiq is a political observer, writes from Kano, Nigeria. Can be reached via sadiqdauda55@gmail.com

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