NLC, Others Want Economic Partnership Date Shifted
From Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 07.22.2005
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the civil society have called for a shift in the commencement date of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), from January 2008 to a more appropriate and realistic date. They said this became necessary in view of the apparent unpreparedness of Economic Community of the West African State (ECOWAS), little or lack of public awareness on EPA process and the little involvement of non-state actors.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a national workshop on “Promotion of the active participation of non-state actors in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), jointly organised by NLC in conjunction with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Kaduna. They said the fact is that European Union is yet to engage consultants and/or yet to release reports submitted by consultants, in view of the postponement of the mid-term review and the inability to meet relevant dates as set on EPA schedule/calendar.
Signed by NLC General Secretary, Comrade John Odah, the communique suggested that there should be genuine and active partnership between the state and non-state actors in line with the provisions of EPA. It added that the national interest should underline all forms of negotiations and agreements entered into by Nigeria under EPA regime and that to be adequately prepared for the
Second phase of the EPA negotiations, Nigeria needs to independently commission local experts and consultants to do basic studies and impact assessment on all sectors covered in EPA negotiating document.
“There is need to broaden and popularise the debate on EPA, by bringing it to the public domain for open and critical discussions and inputs. Any aspect of EPA principles that is not consistent with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) should not be endorsed by Nigeria and ECOWAS,” it said.
In the light of their oversight functions and the powers conferred on them by the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly (NASS) needs to play an active role in EPA negotiation process and that the informal sector should be put on the agenda of EPA, given its strategic location and importance to Africa," it said.
Besides, the communique noted that issues relating to the informal sector should be addressed with a view to giving concessions to the sector, as a means of empowering women who constitute the majority in that sector.