By Christian Njoku
Calabar, Dec. 21, 2020 A lecture at the Department of Economics, University of Calabar, Prof. Uchechi Ogbuagu, says Nigeria needs to boost its local production to benefit from the Africa Continental Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Ogbuagu said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar on Monday,
He was reacting to the Federal Government’s decision to reopen four of the nation’s major land borders on Dec.16.
According to the professor of Economics, since Nigeria is a signatory to AfCFTA, she needs to keep to the agreement by opening its borders to participate in the trading activities.
He said for Nigeria to effectively benefit from the agreement, the nation needed to produce enough and be able to compete in the African market.
“The level of production in Nigeria is very low in both agriculture and industries.
“It ought not to be so because we have the potential to produce what will make us competitive in the African market.
“I don’t encourage restricting the importation of rice and poultry products.
“The way to go is to encourage our local farmers to produce enough and compete,’’ Ogbuagu said.
According to him, the country ought to be refining her own crude oil and selling it under the free trade agreement to the neighbouring countries.
“Think of the level of growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) we can achieve if this is happening.
“If we refine our oil, it will be an object of trade on our borders. This will be helping us make more money to develop our production capacities and create employment opportunities.
“There is smuggling in Nigeria because the nation is not producing enough or the cost of production is high, thereby making goods expensive.
“This enhances smuggling of cheaper goods that could have been produced in the country,’’ he said.
The expert urged the federal government to start implementing the local content agreement.
Ogbuagu said government should ensure that those given loans and grants for agriculture should were monitored and evaluated to ensure that the monies were used for the purpose.
“Also, we need to know that when we get capital goods into the country, the next thing to do is to plan how not to be dependent on the importation of such goods but learn to develop ours,” he said.
He called on government to ensure that the nation’s educational and university systems capable of unlocking the country’s production capacities were maintained. (