President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday assumed chairmanship of the Group of Eight Developing Nations (D-8) with a call on member-states to take advantage of the investment opportunities in Nigeria.
Declaring the 7th summit of the group open in Abuja, Jonathan said Nigeria was blessed with abundant human and natural resources that the D-8 members could exploit.
The president said:“With a population of 150 million, Nigeria is not only Africa’s most populous country, but a preferred investment destination on account of its abundant human and natural resources.
“These are assets that we are making available to investors in D-8 member-countries to exploit,’’ he said.
Jonathan said he would welcome proposals for the establishment of the D-8 Joint Investment Fund as a vehicle for expanding the scope, volume and value of trade and investment among member-states.
He said there was the need to encourage private sector-led cooperation in priority projects in areas such as energy, civil aviation and infrastructural development.
The president also advocated the resuscitation of the D-8 Shipping Business Forum to facilitate the development of the group’s maritime sector as well as achieve its intra-trade target of 1.7 trillion dollars by 2012.
He recalled D-8’s vision at inauguration in 1997, and stressed the need for the member-states to combine their strengths and special endowments to generate the best outcome individually and for the group as a whole.
Jonathan said the recognition of the power of cooperation in maximising the outcome of the summit, informed the choice of the theme, “Enhancing Cooperation among D-8 Member-States.
He said his priority during his two-year tenure as chairman of the group would be to focus on practical and achievable means of enhancing private sector participation in its activities.
Jonathan also stressed the need for the D-8 to adopt its own charter, which would create rights and obligation as well as define the organisation’s relationship with other multilateral organisations.
In his statement to the group, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mr Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who handed over to Jonathan, expressed gratitude to Nigeria for the warm reception accorded members.
He highlighted the achievement of the D-8 since his country took over the chairmanship in July 2008 and expressed confidence that the group would realise its goals and objectives under the “able stewardship of Jonathan.’’
Those attending the summit are President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad of Iran, President Abdullah Gulf of Turkey, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, and the Prime Minister of Egypt, Dr Ahmed Nazif.
Others are the Coordinating Minister and Head of Delegation from Indonesia, Hatta Rajasa; Pakistan Minister of Commerce, Mr Makhdoom Fahim and the D-8 Secretary General, Prof. Widi Pratikto.