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Colloquium makes case for greater pan-African trade

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Colloquium makes case for greater pan-African consciousness, trade

By Tajudeen Hamzat

A colloquium convened to honour the memory of the iconic Pan-African scholar and public commentator, Professor Pius Adesanmi has risen with a call for countries and peoples of the continent to embrace the imperative of growing and sustaining greater pan-Africa consciousness and enhanced trade relations among the people and nations of the continent.

In his welcome address at the event, the convener of the annual colloquium series and Editor-in-Chief of The Difference newspaper, Mr Richard Mammah opined that the first reason for convening the session this year was ‘to continue with the mission we began on May 25th 2016 when we hosted the first edition of this series.’

The session which took place at the Main Auditorium of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba, Lagos, was held on May 23rd, 2019.

Moderated by the writer and advocate, Chuma Nwokolo, the event had as speakers, Dr Kayode Eesuola of the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, University of Lagos and University of the West Indies, Dr Josha Bolarinwa of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Engr Vincent Chiedu of the Nigeria Initiative and Rev. Juliet Binitie of the Institute of National Transformation.

Others were Ms. Uri Ngozichhukwuka, the Chief Executive of Dawn Benjamin Communications and Mr Olushola Olaniyan of the Wikimedia Foundation.

On the thorny issue of Nigeria’s continuing non-assent to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA which comes into formal effect next week but would however be launched at the AU Summit in Niamey on July 7, Mr Mammah observed that the snag remains that ‘certain influential elements have concluded that Nigeria’s signing up for AfCFTA would be injurious to the best interests of the nation. Among other things, the objectors allude to the possibility of dumping of goods by other nations on the Nigerian market under the cover of AfCFTA as well as the influx of other Africans into the nation.’

Repudiating these claims however, he avers that the identified limitations are in themselves inadequate to stop the AfCFTA train:

‘From our checks however, these objections, while being notable, however need to be interrogated. And when this is done, we will see that the fear of goods dumping for example betrays an even bigger crisis:  a penchant for papering cracks and not fixing them. This is because, at its base, goods are dumped on uncompetitive economies with compromised border spaces. If we do not fix these issues, we will find that even if we are out of AfCFTA, products with better weighted production factors would continue to find their way into our markets. That is how international trade works today hence it is cheaper and more cost effective to work on the substantive issues of economic non-competiveness and compromised border spaces,’ he expressed.

Contributing,  Rev. Juliet Binitie of the Institute of National Transformation affirmed that attitudinal change was required in the country and continent if the extant problems were to be solved.

“I submit that we cannot solve this problem by changing Government alone; but by raising the Value system of our people and transforming our cultural belief systems which includes corruption.”

Binitie, who described the late Adesanmi as a global citizen, affirmed that he had indeed stood for the good of all.

On his part, Engineer Vincent Chiedu described Adesanmi as essentially Afrocentric.

‘His appeal was home grown. He wasn’t trying to be westernized. He maintained his authenticity and was intimately connected to his roots raised in part by his deeply traditional Yoruba grandmothers who were very intellectual in their own right but his western intellectualism was honed by his parents who were both educationists.’

Professor Pius Adesanmi was a victim of the ill-fated Ethiopian Airline crash en-route Nairobi from Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019 while engaged as a participant in an African Union Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC, parley..

The Africa Day Colloquium series is an annual initiative of the pan-African newspaper, The Difference.

L-R: Inyang, Ngozichukwuka, Binitie and Mammah at the event

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