Islamabad - President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday in Islamabad, handed over the chairmanship of the Summit of Heads State and Government of the Eight Developing Nations (D-8) to President Asif Zardari of Pakistan.
The ceremony took place at the opening of the Summit of the leaders of the D-8 held at the Presidential grounds in Islamabad, the capital city of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The summit was attended by Presidents Jonathan, Zardari, Mahmoud Ahmadinijad of Iran and Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia.
Also in attendance were Egyptian Vice President, Mahmoud Mekki; Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan; Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Hon’bl Mohyiddin; and the Advisor to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Prof. Gowher Rizvi.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the President assumed the leadership of the D-8 in April 2010 at the 7th bi-annual summit held in Abuja.
In his statements, Jonathan urged the D-8 member countries to continue to forge closer cooperation in order to make the D-8 the engine for growth and prosperity in member countries .
``From what I have seen and observed, from the commitment of Member Countries, I can say with confidence that the future of the D-8 is bright and solid.
``Of course, this is not to say that the road ahead will be all smooth and without bends, bumps and twists; far from it.
``The advantage the D-8 has is that it is a voluntary organisation of like-minded States with a shared vision to work together for the benefit of all.
``I believe that by working together to promote our shared vision and common objectives, we could build the D-8 into a model of successful south-south cooperation,’’ he said.
Jonathan urged the new chairman of the D-8 to encourage exchange of visits between Heads of State and Government, saying: ``This, I believe, will bring our countries, peoples and their governments closer, because such visits will open other vistas of co-operation among the D-8 countries.”
Speaking on some of the accomplishments recorded in the course of the two years of Nigeria’s stewardship as chair of the D-8,
the President said the organisation had empowered the private sector in member states.
He said, ``Throughout Nigeria’s stewardship, we were guided by the vision to nurture our organisation in a way that will empower the private sector in our countries to be the driving force propelling our various development programmes and activities.
“I believe this is the right road to take, because it reflects our shared vision to limit the role of governments in the day-to-day activities of the D-8 to merely that of a catalysts and enablers of economic and trade cooperation among our various countries.”
Jonathan listed the entry into force of the D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement in August 2011 and the Multi-lateral Agreement among D-8 Countries on Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, which came into force in October 2011, as some of his achievements.
``The Agreement of Simplification of Visa Procedures for Businessmen of the D-8 Member States, which had been ratified much earlier, completes the three main Agreements pivotal to trade promotion and cooperation among D-8 countries.
``The ratification of these Agreements by almost all Member States attests to the faith we all have in the D-8 as a viable platform for fostering economic and trade relations among our various countries,” he added.
He said if fully implemented, the agreements could boost D-8 intra-trade volume to a much higher levels.
The President thanked all member countries for their support and acknowledged the commendable work done by the outgoing Secretary-General of the organisation, Dr Widi Pratikto.
Jonathan pledged Nigeria’s support to the organisation and his successor.
In an acceptance speech, Zardari said Pakistan was glad to assume the chairmanship of the organisation.
He said he would work with other member countries for the attainment of the D-8 goals.
He emphasised the need for the organisation to open a new phase of cooperation and understanding and also open up
ways to provide the people with jobs and security.
Zardari urged member countries of the D-8 to encourage interaction among their parliaments, scholars, judges, media and
civil society organisations through simplified visa processing and procedures.
The D-8 was established in Istanbul Turkey in 1997 to foster development cooperation among member countries.
The member nations included Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Iran, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Egypt and Indonesia.