President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he is saddened by the Apapa gridlock, especially the toll it has taken on business in the Lagos area.
He spoke during a meeting with the Leadership of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by its Chairman, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, in Abuja, on Wednesday night.
However, he expressed hope in the ongoing efforts by the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government to end the gridlock.
“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,” Buhari who was being emotional said.
The President also briefed the visitors on the investments undertaken by his administration in the last four years on infrastructure development and in support of business environment, including the establishment of “development banks to provide loans to traders and small enterprises.”
Buhari added: “The consultative approach Nigeria took on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is just another example of our desire for sustainable and inclusive growth. The team visited all the geopolitical zones. We met farmers, commodity traders, manufacturers, bankers and stock brokers. We listened and made notes 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 from the fact that intra-African trade only accounts for 14 per cent of Africa’s total trade. As a continent, our consumption is mostly of goods imported from outside the continent.”
The President also noted: “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.
“Nigeria’s engagement in the next phase of the negotiations is to ensure proper safeguards are put in place to support African manufacturers. We shall continue to count on your support to ensure this goal is achieved.”