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Osinbajo calls for closer cooperation among developing countries

VP receives Secretary-General of D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation at Presidential Villa

Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo says the current trend in the global economy, climate change and the Ukrainian conflict all present opportunities for closer ties among developing economies, especially in refocusing attention on trade and energy access for the benefit of the people.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande said Professor Osinbajo made the remarks on Tuesday in Abuja when he received in audience the Nigerian-born Secretary General of the D-8 Organisation, Ambassador Isiaka Imam at the Presidential Villa.

Nigeria is a member of the D-8 – an organisation for development cooperation among 8 developing countries comprising Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey.

“This is a very important time for member-countries to really focus on the critical issues – trade and energy,” according to the Vice-President.

But trade in particular, he said, “there is a need for greater trade engagements.”

He said Nigeria “offers great prospects for expanding trade among the D-8 members”, noting that “what we all really need to do is to look at how to use Nigeria as a point where you take off from to the AfCTA and some kind of entryway into the AfCTA.

“We think that Nigeria will be able to coordinate the trade routes and opportunities within the AfCTA. For instance, we are very prominent already in banking services all over Africa. I think that is one of the many important areas that we must look at.”

Professor Osinbajo also urged the D-8 to explore means of expanding trade routes, saying it was doable from the “perspective of financial services.

To make that happen, he advised, the D-8 Organisation should “build a payment system”.

“This is one of the areas you may be looking at, especially engaging Nigerian banks to see in which ways they can function within the AfCTA and all our partners and member countries of the D-8,” he said.

On Nigeria’s advocacy for a just transition to net zero, the VP urged the D-8 to join in the campaign, noting that “we are at a point where we are arguing about the role of gas in this whole transition to net zero.”

He queried proposals by the “wealthier countries” of the world for the Third World to “dispense with gas and use more of renewables”, pointing out that Developing countries, including Nigeria, were “pushing back and saying, we must continue to use gas”.

“our advocacy in the area of energy access is an important consideration in the whole campaign towards net zero,” the VP declared.

Similarly, he called for more investments in fossil fuels, especially gas, and urged the D-8 to take up the matter.

Social protection and health

Commending the Organisation for a job well done in the area of social protection and health, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he, however, wondered whether the D-8 should not have seen it as an “excellent opportunity to bring countries together” to thrash out common problems. “Even local manufacture of drugs, we have to develop that capacity,” he advised.

In his remarks, Ambassador Imam said there is a deliberate effort to reinvigorate trade among member countries in the new direction of the D-8, especially improving trade volumes from $121 billion to a new target of about $500 billion by 2030.

He said plans were underway to establish a D-8 MSME Centre in Abuja as part of efforts to boost trade by building capacity among MSMEs in member-countries, pledging that the Centre, if realized, “will be a game-changer for members to enhance the capacity and training of MSMEs in branding and quality control”.

The Secretary-General was accompanied on the visit to the Presidential Villa by the Organisation’s Director of External Relations, Punjul Nugraha.

Writing by Abdullahi Lamino; Editing by Tony Okerafor