The Organised Private Sector (OPS) Nigeria OPS, yesterday warned the federal government against granting of ECOWAS membership to Morocco, saying this will worsen the unemployment and poverty levels in Nigeria.
The OPS comprises the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigeria Employers' Consultative Association (NECA), Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI) and Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME).
In a position paper, tagged 'Reasons Morocco should not be admitted into ECOWAS', signed by its Chairman, Frank Jacobs, the group warned that: "The proposed enlistment of Morocco into the membership of ECOWAS regional bloc will adversely affect the manufacturing sector, dispel the industrialisation headways already made, worsen the unemployment and poverty levels in Nigeria."
"Morocco is a member of the Union for the Mediterranean which comprises 28 countries from the European Union. Granting this same country, the membership of ECOWAS affords 28 countries from European Union free access into the regional market thereby flooding the market with EU products. This is a decoy that will weaken the stance of Nigeria on the ECOWAS-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), inhibit Nigerian diversification and stifle the growth of the manufacturing sector through exploitation of Nigerian and ECOWAS market," he said
The OPSN Chairman said that in view of the envisaged injury which Morocco's admittance will cause to the economic bloc, especially Nigeria, "OPSN urge the Federal Government, ECOWAS Commission and other stakeholders in the Nigerian economy to reject the application.
"We hereby call on the Nigerian Government to as a matter of national interest and utmost urgency deploys necessary diplomatic machinery to halt Morocco's application to fully join ECOWAS which was considered by the Community during its June 2017 meeting in Liberia now that the damage has not been done.
"This will enable Nigeria to have a formidable position on or before the first quarter 2018 when the final verdict on the application of Morocco will be concluded by ECOWAS," he said.
According to him, other reasons why the Moroccan application for ECOWAS full membership should be rejected include: "Moroccan economy is not industrialized and so; one wonders where it will get industrial goods to trade with ECOWAS. The obvious is that it would further the interest of EU by becoming a strategic channel for pushing in EU goods that Nigeria is currently challenging through the back door.
"The Moroccan economy is also largely agrarian, one may also wonder what ECOWAS member-states economies that are predominantly agrarian will benefit from admitting Morocco into the Community," he said.