The need for royals to build peace

This week, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, appealed to traditional rulers to assist the federal government in effort to maintain peace in the country.
Specifically, the SGF urged the royal fathers to help government to deescalate violence.
Speaking in his in office in Abuja while receiving a delegation of royal fathers, Mustapha said the traditional rulers, aptly tagged custodians of peace and tradition in their areas, are frontline stakeholders in the business of peace building, maintenance and promotion.
The six-man delegation of traditional rulers representing the six geopolitical zones was led by the Chairman, Coordinating Committee and Etsu Nupe, His Royal Highness, Dr.
Yahaya Abubakar.
In fact, the essence of the institutions is to preserve the customs, traditions and cultural heritage of the people and manage conflicts and violence arising among or between members of the community by the instrumentality of laws and customs of the people.
Highlighting the significance of peace to development, Mustapha said that “peace building promotes development which in turn attracts investment to the country.” And, speaking ahead of 2019 general elections and potency for violence, Mustapha appealed to the traditional rulers to mobilise the citizenry to obtain their PVCs, and to ensure that the entire 2019 electoral process was peaceful and devoid of violent acts.
No doubt, traditional rulers hold the key to the success or failure in security administration in the country because they operate at the grassroots of the society and interact closely with people in their daily activities consequent upon which they are highly respected.
Yet, the traditional institution is greatly undermined with a consequential effect on the country’s development.
Probably, that is why one of the reasons for our inability to achieve sustainable democracy and development is the failure to harness the traditional political institutions.
It has also been realised that the failure of the key stakeholders in the democratic process to play their expected roles according to the rules of the game is a factor in the democratic and developmental hurdles in the country.
These are in addition to cultural pluralism which has militated and continues to militate against the development of a homogenous monolithic cultural pattern to which all Nigerians could be expected to conform.
For democracy and development to be sustainable in modern Nigeria, the key stakeholders like traditional rulers, political parties, politicians, media, civil society groups, electorate, and the general public must be wellplaced and harnessed.
However, the critical roles the traditional institutions could play in democracy and development have not only been unacknowledged but have also been grossly under-estimated by their relegation to the background in the current democratic dispensation.
Thus, all hands must be on deck as the situation of peace and security in the country now deserves collective approach by the government, traditional institutions, faith-based organisations and the communities.
Of course, it is pleasing to hear from the SGF that government shall continue to support efforts of the royal fathers to “deescalate communal conflicts that continue to inflict severe losses of lives and destruction of property

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On the huge benefits of ACFTA…
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday that the benefits of signing the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) are huge for the country.
Osinbajo said this at the 8th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum with focuses on the export sector and the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).
“With respect to the ACFTA, there are, clearly, huge advantages for us, no question about it at all,” he said.
The agreement will liberalise commercial services and also tackle so-called “non-tariff barriers” which include extended delays and harassment at border posts.
Ultimately, free movement of people and a common currency is expected to evolve in a free trade area, which is branded as only second in size to the World Trade Organization.
Intra-Africa trade is, notably, relatively modest at barely 10 per cent of the total trade in the continent by 2010.
Thus, by creating a single continental market for goods and services, the African Union brings together 1.2 billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product of more than $2 trillion.
Notably, however, before the 2015 devaluation, Nigeria’s GDP was reported to be close to $450 billion (over 20 per cent of Africa’s total GDP).
Nonetheless, the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has estimated that by 2022 full implementation of the agreement could increase the 2010 IntraAfrica trade value by up to 52 per cent.
According to the Vice President, the rest of Africa sees the enormous advantage of Nigeria’s participation, stressing that “everybody is waiting for us naturally and that is because they see a huge market, there are advantages of our being there.” And, of course, there are advantages for Nigeria.
The ACFTA will benefit Africa in at least six mutually reinforcing ways.
First, the conclusion of the agreement will generate the impetus for the creation of similar arrangements in western Africa, bringing economic powerhouses such as Nigeria into a continental free trade area.
In fact, negotiations for an overarching agreement will be launched in 2015, with the projected creation of an Africawide free market in 2017.
Secondly, it will create a much larger market whose free flow of goods and services will help to maintain economic growth at six to seven per cent per year.
At this rate, the combined GDP of Africa is projected to reach $29 trillion by 2050, which would be equal to the current combined GDP of the EU and the US.
With additional policies, such growth will contribute significantly to spreading prosperity and reducing poverty.
Thirdly, the agreement will serve as an impetus for investment in Africa’s cross-border infrastructure.
It is estimated that Africa needs to invest nearly $100bn annually in infrastructure over the next decade.
Less than half of this target is met currently.
One of the reasons for the low level of investment has been poor coordination across the different trading blocs.
Building infrastructure will also create additional jobs and foster the development of engineering services.
Fourthly, the prospects for the larger markets and supporting infrastructure will spur industrial development.
This will not only create jobs but it will also have the added advantage of diversifying Africa’s economies that are largely dependent on raw materials.
The associated technological development will lead to the creation of new industries.
Trade among the three blocs over the last decade has been dominated by intermediate products and manufactured goods, contrary to the common belief that African countries are trading in similar.
These trends underscore the potential role of the ACFTA as a driver of industrial development and in the manufacture of high-value products.
Fifthly, the signal of larger markets will also help to stimulate trade in services.
The first beneficiary is likely to be the financial sector, which will be able to lend to larger industrialists seeking to benefit from economies of scale.
Such financial services will reinforce the increase in cross-border investments by emerging African firms that are serving as regional champions of industrial development.
Sixthly, by being part of larger markets, small African countries will no longer be restricted to producing their traditional products.
With better policies and human resources they can become the locus of new manufacturing operations that serve wider markets.
By providing a single economic space with harmonized trade policies and a regulatory framework, the ACFTA solves the problem of multiple memberships, rationalises trade negotiations, reduces the cost of doing business, supports industrialisation, and stimulates crossborder infrastructure projects.
Yet, despite the advantages, like Osinbajo said, we must ensure that we get the best possible terms for Nigerian trade and commerce mainly because the country’s experiences with dumping and other injurious practices make it obvious to us that our market could be a real target, our local manufacturing could become unprofitable and our agricultural advantage could be reverse.
Thankfully too, Osinbajo said though the general resolve favours engagement, the concerns remain around improving the domestic environment for greater competitiveness, power supply and investment in infrastructure.
Thus, it is heartwarming that the federal government has taken into account the various issues raised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other stakeholders

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