Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday decried the “baseless assertions” on the nation’s economy by some public commentators and critics of the current administration.

In his keynote address at the 61st annual conference of the Nigerian Economic Society (NES), the vice president urged the academics to be more involved in conversations that would deepen public knowledge and understanding of the economy.

He said: “I find it every often that some public commentators make assertions that have no basis in economic theory or practice, and because they dominate the public space, they contribute to public misunderstanding of economic principles and their application to public policy.

“Some of you should take up the gauntlet and help to shape an informed and reasoned national discourse on the economy.”

On the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Osinbajo charged African countries to ensure that trade negotiations with the rest of the world are based on the free trade agreement rather than deals separately endorsed by regional economic blocs.

The vice president added: “One important objective of the AfCFTA is to overcome the economic fragmentation of the continent by bringing the regional economic blocs together in a common arrangement.

“This being the case, African countries should look to negotiating trade treaties with other parts of the world on the basis of AfCFTA rather than through arbitrarily designed regional blocs.

“African countries should not allow themselves to be lured into arrangements which do not serve their long-term development objectives.

“We must, of course, continue to bear in mind, especially here in Nigeria that the AfCFTA is not a magic wand that automatically brings about growth and prosperity.

“The reality is that if care is not taken, trade liberalisation can expose the Nigerian economy to unfair competition and sharp trade practices, with adverse consequences for our producers who might have to close down their businesses, and for our workers who would then lose their jobs.”