President Muhammadu Buhari today stated the reasons why Nigeria refused to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) among ECOWAS member-countries.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, stated that President Buhari made the clarification while receiving Letter of Credence from the Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The President was quoted as telling the envoy that Nigeria was reluctant to sign the EPA among ECOWAS countries because of the need to protect the nation’s economy, particularly the industries that currently provide jobs for majority of Nigerians.
President Buhari noted that the signing of the pact would expose the industries and small businesses to external pressures and competitions, which could lead to closure and job losses.
He said: “We are not enthusiastic about signing the EPA because of our largely youthful population. We are still struggling to provide jobs for them, and we want our youths to be kept busy.
“Presently, our industries cannot compete with the more efficient and highly technology-driven industries in Europe. We have to protect our industries and our youths”, the President added.
While commended the EU for its support for the rehabilitation of the North East, he explained that the Nigerian economy was already being repositioned to attract more investments with the attendant positive implications for job creation.
In his remarks, Karlsen said the EU would continue to support the present administration in key priorities areas namely, security, economy and the fight against corruption.
The envoy pointed out that the EPA was designed to accommodate and protect some economies that would find it difficult to compete and expressed the hope “that there will be a signature on the agreement.’’
In a related development, President Buhari also received Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of Italy, Dr. Stefano Pontesilli; and the Ambassador of Spain, Mr. Marcelino Ansorena.