Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has vehemently opposed the admission of Morocco into the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) union. The Association warned the Federal Government against supporting such a notion at its 45th Annual General Meeting (AGM), held last Thursday in Lagos, revealing that it would have a disastrous effect on the nation’s manufacturers.
Speaking through its President Frank Udemba Jacobs at the AGM, MAN said admission of Morocco into ECOWAS would be equivalent to signing the EPA through the back door. “We therefore urge the Federal government to vehemently oppose the move as it would spell doom to the productive sector of the economy”
He further explained that: “We are aware that Morocco and European Union (EU) have trade agreement, which means if they become part of ECOWAS, products that come into Morocco from EU will end up in Nigeria, after all Nigeria is the biggest market among all these countries in the ECOWAS, so we are vehemently opposed to Morocco being admitted into ECOWAS, it will really affect us badly, so we are telling our government not to allow them become part of ECOWAS because it will badly affect the productive sector of our economy…come to think of it, why should they be part of ECOWAS? They are too far, ECOWAS is Economic States of West Africa, Morocco is not part of West Africa and they shouldn’t be part of ECOWAS”
While lauding the FG for the introduction of some policies which have stimulated the economy, MAN appealed that there were still three key challenges that had to be adequately addressed for the nation’s productive sector to boom.
The three major challenges, according to him are inadequate and unstable power, non-availability of foreign exchange for the importation of essential manufacturing inputs and the unrestrained high interest rates. He said with the prevailing double-digit interest rates, the Nigerian economy would continue to suffer decline. “Therefore we recommend, as the Association has done in the past and always, a single-digit interest rate.”
Also on the Morocco joining the ECOWAS, it would be recalled that the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) recently called on the Nigerian government to resist any attempt by other member countries of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to admit Morocco into the regional body.
Noting that Morocco, by reason of its geographical location, does not qualify to be admitted into the regional organization, the association, through its founding chairman and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ignatius C. Olisemeka, however warned that Morocco’s motive was political and aimed at whittling down the strength of Nigeria for her role in the admission of Western Sahara into the then Organization of African Unity (OAU).
The association however wondered why the Federal Government had so far, not engaged in a vigorous campaign against Morocco’s move, stressing that the government owed Nigerians an explanation.
The association further argued that admitting Morocco into the regional body would mark the end of ECOWAS, as a new name would be introduced to accommodate countries beyond the border of West Africa.
Rather than seek to destabilize ECOWAS, ARCAN has called on Morocco to go back to the regional organization it originally belonged and reconcile its differences with its brother nations.
Another group, the Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara also vehemently opposed the admission of Morocco into ECOWAS. The group said the 15-nation West African bloc has little in common with the North African kingdom, especially as it maintains a grip on Western Sahara.
“The move by Morocco to join the ECOWAS is a direct challenge to the leadership of Nigeria in the sub-region,” Dipo Fashina, convener of the group, said in a statement recently.
“Nigeria must rise to the occasion and ensure that the application of Morocco for membership is rejected.”