The African Development Bank (AfDB) has debunked media report which quoted it as saying that Nigeria was yet to rectify the treaty of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) because its government does not understand the concept of a continental free trade.
A statement by the Director of Communication and External Relations of AfDB, Dr. Victor B. Oladokun, said there is no iota of truth in the report.
According to Oladokun, the bank understanding is that the Nigerian Government is consulting with the private sector and could not have had the statement reported by the media in Nigeria.
The Oladokun's statement read: "The attention of the African Development Bank has been drawn to a story published by Sahara Reporters on June 16 quoting our Director of Industrial and Trade Development, Abdu Mukhtar, who was alleged to have said that the Nigerian Government does not understand the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
"We want to state in clear terms that this is an exercise in journalistic mischief."
According to the AfDB image maker, "The bank official did not make such statement. At no time did Mukhtar speak with Sahara Reporters.
"On the contrary, he had a brief session with The Guardian, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Daily Trust newspaper at the recently concluded annual meetings of the bank in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
"The journalists had sought Muhktar's views on the importance of ACFTA for African countries, including Nigeria.
"Mukhtar made the following clarifications: 'The bank understanding is that the Nigeria Government is consulting with the private sector, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other critical stakeholders, which the bank considers to be a step in the right direction.
"While initiatives such as ACFTA include discussions with multiple key stakeholders, the AfDB is optimistic that Nigeria, the continent most populous country, will soon conclude consultations, ratify and join the African Continental Free Trade Area.
"Nigeria is an important member of the bank and an important country for ACFTA."
Oladokun continued: "Dr. Mukhtar also spoke about regional integration, entrepreneurship and the role of the private sector in the bank transformative agenda.
"The AfDB remains committed to supporting Africa and the ACFTA initiative, but respects the choice of each country."