By Taiwo-Hassan Adebayo
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday finally signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The signing comes several months after the Nigerian leader initially refused to sign the agreement which has already been signed by about 52 other African countries.
Mr Buhari signed the agreement in Niger Republic on Sunday. The president left for Niger Republic on Saturday afternoon for the African Union (AU) summit holding there.
Niger, which borders Nigeria to the North, is hosting the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Niamey.
Mr Buhari had refused to sign the agreement saying more consultations were necessary before Nigeria can append its signature to it.
His reluctance to sign had been criticised by many diplomats and other Nigerians including ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mr Buhari recently criticised the AfCFTA, and outlined his own vision of what African free trade should be.
“Our vision for intra-African trade is for the free movement of “made in Africa goods”. That is, goods and services made locally with dominant African content in terms of raw materials and value addition,” he said.
The presidency, however, indicated that Mr Buhari would soon sign the agreement following the recommendation of a panel he set up.
It is not clear if the Nigerian leader’s concerns were reflected in the agreement he signed.