•MAN, LCCI, NACCIMA, Nig-SA Chamber point way forward
By Yinka Kolawole & Naomi Uzor
As street-fights over economic interests across Nigeria and South Africa cities snowball into major diplomatic discord between the two countries, members of the organised private sector, OPS, have hinted of real threat to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, agreement.
Responding to Vanguard inquiries, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, yesterday, warned of a dire consequence of the development on the objectives of the just signed AfCFTA.
Director General, MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir, stated: “Without doubt, South Africa is amongst the first three economies in Africa. It has no less than 23 per cent of intra-African trade. Its companies all around Africa enjoy the welcome and acceptance of the governments and the people.
“And with the onset of Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement (to which South Africa is a signatory), this signal from South Africa portends a dangerous trend. The country may be portraying itself as one that is not worthy of foreign direct investment (FDI). Free movement of persons and right to invest and enjoy protection of life and property are basic ingredients of a free trade area. So long as the foreign nationals live in obedience with the laws of the host country, these rights should be guaranteed.”
Ajayi-Kadir said the government of South Africa should rein in those who are perpetrating these activities, follow up with an unreserved apology and compensate the affected foreign nationals.
In his remark, Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, said that the attacks are most unfortunate, coming especially from a country for which Nigeria made great sacrifices to rescue from the claws of apartheid.
“I do not think that the attacks have the support of the South African government. But the fact that the government could not curb the recurrence is a major cause for concern. It is equally disturbing that the perpetrators of the attacks have not been brought to justice. The situation calls for tougher diplomatic actions on the government of South Africa.
“However, attacking South Africa investments in Nigeria is certainly not an option. Nigerians and Nigeria have significant stakes in most of the South African investments in Nigeria. These are with regards to employment, tax revenue, service provision, equity investments, suppliers and service providers etc,” he stated. President, Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, said the attacks are unfortunate.
She stated: “No matter what citizens of a country are doing, they should not be hunted and killed like animals. The Nigerian Government is now taking a stand towards a lasting solution.”
“On the other hand, we must condemn what is now happening to so called South African businesses in Nigeria. MTN and Shoprite are virtually owned by Nigerians. They provide jobs for our people. Our economy will be adversely affected by all this unwanted destructions and lootings.”
In his reaction, Executive Secretary, Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce, Iyke Ejimofor, said the attacks are bad, not only for the Nigeria-South Africa relationship but what this symbolizes and portends for the present and future of the progress and prosperity of the African continent.
“There is no monopoly of violence and vandalism, as there are vast South African business interests in the entire continent of Africa, in which South Africa has more to lose. This will, indeed be very sad for our two brotherly countries, which stand to gain immensely from smooth bilateral relations, which foundation was laid by leaders of both countries,” he stated.