President Muhammadu Buhari says he is deeply concerned over the persistent Apapa gridlock in Lagos State, South-West of the country.
The President made his feelings known when he received the leadership of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
He, however, expressed optimism that the problem would soon be resolved, as the Federal Government and Lagos State Government are jointly working together to bring an end to the issue.
“I must admit, the Apapa gridlock still remains a challenge. It saddens me that businesses have had to suffer as a result of this. We are doing our very best working with the Lagos State Government to bring an end to this issue,’’ he said.
President Buhari also reassured that his administration would continue to support the private sector to flourish and create more jobs in the country.
He revealed that the federal government had invested heavily in infrastructure development, and also supported development banks to provide loans to traders and small enterprises.
“In the last four years, we have invested heavily in infrastructure development. We supported our development banks to provide loans to traders and small enterprises.
“We signed executive orders to support local content consumption. We also focused on enhancing ease of doing business to facilitate investment,” he stated.
The Nigerian leader said that there was alignment with the monetary authorities which had significantly contributed to the successes recorded.
On the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), President Buhari said the consultative approach Nigeria took on the Free Trade Agreement was just another example of government’s desire for sustainable and inclusive growth.
He revealed that the consultative team had visited all the geopolitical zones, and met with farmers, commodity traders, manufacturers, bankers and stock brokers, adding that “we listened and made note of their views.
“Our studies revealed that although the services sector was doing okay, other key job creating sectors such as manufacturing and processing were still lagging behind. This is evident by the fact that intra-African trade only accounts for 14% of Africa’s total trade. As a continent, our consumption is mostly of goods imported from outside the continent.
“We viewed this as both an opportunity and a threat. It is an opportunity as Nigerian manufacturers can aggressively expand to meet the huge demand across the continent. It is a threat as one can abuse the rules of origin to flood the market with imports from outside the continent thereby destroying jobs here at home.’’
He, however, stated that Nigeria’s engagement in the next phase of the negotiations would ensure that proper safeguards are put in place to support African manufacturers.
Earlier, the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Babatunde Ruwase commended the president for signing the AfCFTA.
He also requested that the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which he described as the oldest in the country, be regularly invited to State functions that are business and economy related.