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D8 meeting: Isiaka gives account of six months stewardship

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The Secretary General of the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation, Ambassador Isiaka Abdulqadir Imam, has assured that with the positive acceptance of D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) which will serve as catalyst in boosting intra-trade relations among member countries, its operationalization will take off later this year as agreed.

While presenting the Commission and the Council of Ministers as the Chief Scribe of the Organization on his six months stewardship at the just–concluded meetings of 45th Session of D-8 Commission and the 20th Session of the Council of Ministers held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Isiaka restated his commitment to his vision of increasing intra-trade relations amongst member countries of D-8, as well as increasing the visibility of the organization within and outside member states, through project implementation and partnership with the Organized Private Sector and Development Partners.

Speaking further, the Secretary General told the August gathering that significant progress had been achieved in the area of trade cooperation among member states with the conclusion of all issues around Trade Facilitation Strategy (TFS) and Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) of the D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA).

In her inaugural address to the Council of Ministers, through virtual platform, the Prime Minister of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh and current Chair of the D-8 Organization, Honourable Sheikh Hasina, stressed the need for implementing the PTA within the Grouping to make it a strong economic bloc. She urged member countries to work together to provide the impetus for harnessing the potential towards a prosperous future. Honourable Prime Minister Hasina expressed her satisfaction with the finalization of D-8 PTA which she hoped would help harmonize intra-country trade, liberalize the barriers, and stimulate trade and economic cooperation among the member states.

In similar vein, at the D-8 Chambers of Commerce and Industry (D-8 CCI) Business and Expo Forum organized from 26-27 July 2022 on the sidelines of the Council of Ministers meeting, Mr. Sheikh Fazle Fahim, who is the President of D-8 CCI, stated in his opening remarks, that the Expo would pave the path to expanding businesses among the member countries.  

In his address to the Council of Ministers, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, who chaired the Council meeting, lauded the Secretary General and his team at the Secretariat for their proactive measures and novel initiatives to help member countries advance the goals of the organization. 

He said that the volume of intra-trade among member states at the inception of the organization 25 years ago was 13 billion dollars, which has now reached 129 billion dollars.

He expressed hope that within the next 10 years intra-trade will increase by 10 times or at least to 1.3 trillion dollars.

Speaking further, the Minister underscored the importance of the youths in member countries to the overall development agenda of the D-8 organization. He called on member countries to tap into the ideas and fearless energy of the youths to bring the much-needed change, which could be utilized by providing them with education and job opportunities.

On the role of women, Dr. Momen described women power as a major force in every country, adding that the time has come to recognize their potential and involve them in economic development. To achieve this, he said, priority must be given to female education, skills training, and also create a conducive environment for women to enable them contribute to economic development.

Aside the issue of trade, other key issues deliberated on by the meetings included administrative and financial matters and the issue of enlargement objectives of the Organization, as well as the current and future activities of the five D-8 affiliate bodies, namely, the D-8 Health and Social Protection Program, D-8 Technology Transfer and Exchange Network, D-8 International University, D-8 Network of Pioneers for Research and Innovation and D-8 Agricultural Research Centre.

The Ministers and representatives of the member countries reiterated the commitments of their respective countries to provide continuous support to the D-8 Organization.

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Niger Delta Youth Council Facilitates with Nigerians on the Occasion of World Youth Day

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…reflects on the state of the nation

…calls for youth friendly policies

The Niger Delta Youth Council (NDYC), a pressure group devoted to youth empowerment and development in the Niger Delta has facilitated with the federal government and Nigerian youths as the world marks International Youth Day, a day set aside to celebrate youths all over the world and reflect on the challenges they face and ways to surmount them.

In a press release made available to journalists in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Engr. Jator Abido, the group expressed optimism that this year’s World Youth Day will avail Nigerian youths and government and avenue to brainstorm and find lasting solutions bedeviling the Nigerian youth especially in the area of unemployment and perennial insecurity that has hindered economic activities in many parts of the country.

“Today is an important date sets aside to celebrate International Youth Day. The importance of this annual celebration according to the United Nation (UN) is to among other things raise voices against any injustice or discrimination and deprivation around the globe against the youth. We as a pressure group want to use this opportunity to call attention to the alarming rate of unemployment which has risen to 35% in the third quarter of 2022 as well as insecurity which has brought to a halt economic activities in most parts of the country. It is our hope that government will act fast to end insecurity and reverse the ugly trend of unemployment in the country”, the statement noted.

The lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the group noted has far reaching implications on the future of Nigerian youths and if nothing is done about it, will endanger the mental and social capacity of youth, predisposing them to social crimes and agents of destabilization in the forth coming general elections

“The implication of this unwarranted strike is that for the past six months and counting, Nigerian youths have been idling away at home and the federal government has not considered the damage such failures portend. Not just that future leaders of Nigeria are idle but an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Criminal elements within the ruling class will quickly recruit and turn them to agents of destruction and crime as the 2023 general elections draw near. This must not be allowed to happen. The federal government must act fast to reverse this ticking time bomb from exploding” the statement urged.

The CSO equally charged the federal government to come out with policies that will encourage the participation of Nigerian youths in the downstream oil sector especially by actively using local artisans in line with local content policy of the federal government insisting that Nigerian youths especially those in the Niger Delta region have what it takes to actively transform the oil sector and end the sad phenomenon of exporting crude and importing refined products which is almost crumbling the economy.

“We are once again calling on the federal government on this occasion of International Youth Day to as a matter of national importance formulate policies which will make the local content law a more practical reality. Our youths are well skilled in oil exploration and even refining. Granting licenses to local artisans and modifying their technology will end the uneconomical policy of importing refined petroleum products at exorbitant rates at the expense of the naira. Such steps will also put an end to youth restiveness in the country and stimulate economic growth”, the statement added.

On the need to inaugurate the Niger Delta Development Commission’s (NDDC) Board, the CSO noted, it is long overdue and the federal government must use this occasion of the International Youth Day to respond to the yearnings of youths in the Niger Delta who are the first beneficiaries and sufferers of both good and bad policy choices in the region, arguing that, NDDC can not continue to run without a substantive Board.

“Mr. President Sir, we are calling on you to use your good office and cause the inauguration of the NDDC Board which was duly constituted but has since not being inaugurated because of the activities of saboteurs. This is not only unconstitutional but a slap on the faces of law abiding Niger Deltans who are looking forward to development massive in the region. Without a Board, corruption is rife in the Commission and the people who are supposed to be served are suffering because of the greed of a few politicians. If nothing is done to bring an end to this impunity, we’ll have no choice but to take up arms and fight for our rights”, the statement concluded.

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