Chris Steven, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, (ACP), to focus its future around areas of comparative advantage including trade, investment and technology.
President Buhari spoke at the just concluded ACP Summit of Heads of States (which ended on Wednesday in Papua New Guinea) noted that while the ACP Group has done well, noting that the Federal Government of Nigeria supports the view that the ACP should not stretch itself further but rather, focus on areas of comparative advantage”.
Represented by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the President listed three areas which he described as future pillars for the group namely Trade and Investment, Government Development Cooperation through Technology, Political Dialogue and Advocacy.
Continuing, he noted that, considering the challenges that most countries of the ACP face, development cooperation, including building capacity in Trade & Investment with Science and Technology are very important and that Nigeria advocates that the group should focus on these particular pillars.
In the area of technology, Prof Osinbajo while presenting Nigeria’s statement at the summit said efforts should be focussed on job creation just as he said that young people should be encouraged to go into areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and education.
He said in technology in particular, areas such as computer application, programming, lighting, soft ware applications and so on, should be explored to engage young people in ACP countries “to ensure that our young people” are in the cutting edge of technology.
Responding to the report on the future of the ACP, presented to the summit by the Eminent Persons Group, EPG, led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Vice President Osinbajo noted the important suggestions and recommendations in the report and assured the summit of Nigeria’s continuing support of the ACP.
Pledging the support of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN disclosed that Nigeria would continue its active engagement with and in the Group. He described the report of the Eminent Persons as excellent because it has set the tone for future negotiations.
Speaking during a press interview at the summit, the Vice President said the meeting in Papua New Guinea was a crucial one, endeavoring to reposition the ACP towards 2020 and beyond, when the strategic relationship between the ACP and the European Union is expected to move to a new level.
It would be recalled that the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) is an organisation formed in 1975 with the Cotonou Agreement, and composed of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states, with all of them, save Cuba, signatories to the Cotonou Agreement, also known as the ‘ACP-EC Partnership Agreement’ which binds them to the European Union. There are 48 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 15 from the Pacific, in the ACP.
According to the Vice President, since the creation of the ACP, there had been so many changes and dynamics, necessitating the need to restrategize.
Regarding the expiration of the agreement in 2020, Prof. Osinbajo stated that the countries seem to have made up their minds to continue to work together beyond 2020, noting that the most important thing is how the ACP would engage with the European Union, because the organizations are vastly different from what they were in 1975.
Going forward, Prof Osinbajo said the new ACP-EU dynamics would definitely be different adding that this is the essence of the proactive steps that are being taken now, making it hopeful that the future is bright.