President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and
Out-going Chairman of the D-8 Organisation
OPENING SESSION OF THE 8TH D-8 SUMMIT
ISLAMABAD, 22ND NOVEMBER 2012
Your Excellency, President Asif Zardari of the
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Esteemed Presidents, Prime Ministers and Heads of Delegation of Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey and Iran
The Secretary-General of D-8 Organisation
Distinguished Members of Delegation
Members of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As this is my very last assignment as Chair of the D-8, I must say how pleased I am for the opportunity to serve this young and dynamic Organisation for the past two years. Let me also seize this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to the Government and People of Pakistan for their warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements made for our meeting.
Shortly, I will be asking His Excellency, President Asif Zardari of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to step in and take over the stewardship of the D-8 for the next two years. Before I perform this important duty, I will briefly comment on some of the activities and programmes we were able to accomplish over the course of the past two years.
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 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 catalysts and enablers of economic and trade cooperation among our various countries.
Some of our notable achievements in the past two years include the entry into force of the D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement in August 2011; the Multi-lateral Agreement among D-8 Countries on Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, which came into force in October 2011. 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. Fully implemented, these agreements have the potential of boosting D-8 intra-trade volume to much higher levels.
It is worth recalling that the Abuja Declaration of 2010 directed the Commission to finalise work on the draft D-8 Charter, the Statutory Documents and the Global Vision. The conclusion of work on these core documents remains one of the major accomplishments of our Organisation in the last two years. Undoubtedly, the adoption of these documents here in Islamabad will be a fitting tribute to the vision and aspirations of the founders of our Organisation.
I am happy to report that in the past two years, D-8 Member Countries gave strong support to the Nigerian Chair. Indeed, without exception, Members of our Organisation were always ready to help remove obstacles and carry forward the D-8’s strategic vision. I thank you all for your faith in the D-8 and for the enthusiasm and solidarity in the past two years of Nigeria’s stewardship of this Organisation.
Excellencies, 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 is 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 countries with a shared vision to work together for the benefit of all.
I must say that the modest progress our Organisation was able to achieve these past two years under Nigeria’s stewardship could not have been possible without the commitment and strong support of all D-8 Member Countries. I will therefore like to seize the opportunity to, once again, convey my gratitude to all Member Countries for their support which greatly benefited the work of our Organisation.
I also must acknowledge the commendable work done by the outgoing Secretary-General of our Organisation, Dr Widi Agoes Pratikto, whose tenure coincided with Nigeria’s stewardship of the D-8. Dr Pratikto worked closely with Nigeria during the past two years, and always displayed great passion and professionalism in his work. I wish him well and success in his future endeavours.
Excellencies, as Pakistan assumes the chair of the D-8 at this Summit, I would like to urge D-8 Member Countries to continue to forge closer cooperation so as to make the D-8 the engine of growth and prosperity in our various countries. I believe working together to promote our shared vision and common objectives; we could build the D-8 into a model of successful south-south cooperation.
When I took over the leadership of our Organisation I had the intention of visiting all our Member Countries. However, because of the demands of governance, I was only able to visit Turkey. It is still my fervent desire to pay a visit to other member countries of our Organisation in that spirit. Let me seize this opportunity to appeal to Your Excellencies, especially our incoming Chairman, to try and encourage exchange of visits among Heads of State and Government. This, I believe, will bring our countries, peoples and their Governments closer, because such visits will open other vistas of cooperation among the D-8 countries.
In conclusion, my last words must be to pledge Nigeria’s support to President Zardari, and to assure Your Excellencies that my country values our partnership and will remain an active collaborator with other D-8 family members.
It is now my honour and privilege to hand over the baton of Chair of the D-8 to the safe and steady hands of the President of the Islamic Republic Pakistan, H.E. Asif Zardari.
I thank you for the attention.