There was a mild drama on Tuesday in Abuja as Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State put a stop on attempt to play Nigerian national anthem during the opening session of a workshop on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The governor, who was apparently surprised that the programme- Subnational Strategy Workshop on AfCFTA, which had commenced before his arrival, was to be paused for the national anthem and prayer, prompting him to react in protest.
“National anthem is a recurring decimal, it should not just be a permanent thing anytime we just gather in public occasion,” he said.
The governor’s comment elicited laughter among some of the participants as the programme proceeded without the playing of the national anthem.
Fayemi, who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), which jointly organised the workshop with the National Action Committee on AfCFTA, said trading under AfCFTA’s banner would support the nation’s economy in the area of trade and investments expansion, adding that states must fully key into it to get the maximum benefits.
“For Nigeria to benefit fully from this opportunity and position itself competitively, the sub-national governments need to incorporate considerations of the agreement into our development plan,” he said.
Fayemi, however, expressed concerns that the revenue generating mentality of the Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Immigration Service and some regulatory agencies may pose a serious threat to AfCFTA unless there is change of attitude.
“We have Customs, I don’t want to go into the details of the mentality of our Customs – which focuses more on revenue generation than trade facilitation, and trade facilitation is what will make AfCFTA works better in our environment, ditto our Immigration Service.
“Yes, we all say under the Buhari’s administration as part of the ease of doing business competitive framework, we now allow visa at the point of entry, but those who have gone through that experience will also tell you that trying to bring people in on the visa at point of entry is an experience you will rather not have because is not as smooth will claim it to be,” Fayemi said.