VP Osinbajo receives D-8 delegation

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Nigeria’s Vice President on Tuesday received a delegation of the D-8 Organisation for Economic Development led by the Secretary-General, Amassador Dato’ku Jaafaru Ku Shaari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

A statement signed by Presidential Spokesman, Laolu Akande said that the D-8 top official is in Nigeria as the Health & Social Protection Programme of the group is being established in the country.

Speaking during the meeting with Ku Shaari, Prof. Osinbajo said that the Buhari administration would be happy to work closely with other countries who share similar socio-economic objectives in order to increase economic opportunities and healthcare delivery to citizens.

Osinbajo said: “I want to congratulate you on the signing of the partnership agreement for the Health and Social Protection Programme. This is important for us and for all D-8 countries.

“We are all emerging economies, the whole question around health care, human capacity development is crucial for us, and I think it is appropriate that we devote the time and resources like we are currently doing.”

Speaking further on the focal areas of cooperation of the D-8, Prof. Osinbajo said, “We are hopeful that you will succeed in deepening the impact of the focal areas of trade, industry, energy and tourism, in all of our countries. We are happy that, working with the other countries, we can achieve our economic objectives.

“So, we are certainly looking forward to continue to work with the D-8. We are committed to the D-8 and expect that the forthcoming summit will expand the scope of work and deepen the achievements of the D-8.

Social Protection Programme
Earlier in his remark, Ambassador Dato’ Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari who thanked Nigeria for hosting the secretariat of the D-8 Health and Social Protection Programme, said implementing programmes on health and poverty alleviation was key to the agenda of the organization.

He also spoke on the D-8’s forthcoming summit in Bangladesh later in the year where a new road map and plan of action for the actualization of the organisation’s targets will be launche

Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, Ambassador Ku Shaari, said the D-8 was working towards new vision for the next 10 years.

New Vision
He said the roadmap for the new vision would be approved at the D-8 Summit in Dhaka, Bangledesh, this year.

“In it we will open more sectors for corporation, including importation issues being climate change, artificial intelligence, financial sector, and health, of course, will be included in it.  Some other areas like education, humanitarian etc.

“Come this summit, we will introduce new initiatives, in particular working with the private sector.  So, four initiatives we are thinking of.  One or two will be launched. 

“The others we hope that the ministers will approve it and we launch later, but it involves new thinking, new way of doing things. 

“What we are doing now is to create a special ecosystem in the organization so that we will engage in new science and technology innovation. 

“We will address those issues important to all member states and finding a new way of giving opportunity to our people; to connect to one another better and to know our organistation better.  Everything is being geared towards achieving this target.”

Engaging the world
Kushaari said that the D-8 has for the past 22 years of its existence focused on six areas of corporation, including trade,  industry, agriculture and food security, energy, transportation and tourism, but would engage more actively with the world from now.

According to him, the organisation would engage in the “latest technology, in the latest science and issues that we are facing a lot together as member states of the UN.” 

He said the D-8 would be targeting the UN SDGs and would initiate new programmes and activities, including the establishment of the D-8 International University, which is based in Iran.

Protection Office
Kushaari said that the D-8 signed agreement for the establishment of the headquarters of the Health and Social Protection Office in Nigeria.

“The basic idea is not only providing the PHC, but we want to see the health sector helping all the member states to advance the economy, growth and development because it provides the opportunity that while we improve the standard of living, in particular in the health sector.

“But it will provide opportunity to empower the local people to go into entrepreneurship, into SMEs, into building new capacity by using local resources, by sharing the best practices, by sharing experiences. 

“That is what we are thinking that we will engage more; we will get the others to support this programme.” 

He said the headquarters agreement meant that “the government of Nigeria has agreed to provide us with facility and some funding to start the programme.”

Office Establishment
Also speaking, the Programme Director, D-8 Health and Social Protection, Dr. Ado Mohammad, said that Vice President Osinbajo assured the organisation of Nigeria’s support in the establishment of the office in Abuja.

He said that health was critical to the objectives of the D-8, noting that it would support the attainment of the SDGs 1, 2 &3 “that speak to poverty, that speak to hunger, that speak to wellbeing.”

Mohammad also said that the trade volume within the D-8 bloc the trade volume is about $110billion, while that between D-8 and other countries is about $3.5trillion.

He said that the D-8 would want to use the health sector as a stimulant  to enhance trade between the member countries.

The D-8 countries include Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey with a combined population of approximately 1 billion covering an area of 7.6 million square kilometres and, 5% of world land area.

Nnenna.O