By Sunday Oyinloye
The Secretary General of the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti has acknowledged the importance of Nigeria’s role in the Organisation, even as he asks Nigeria to share the brilliant story of the Technical Aid Corps (TAC)
Speaking at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Georges who is on 2-day working visit to Nigeria said he was on outreach to some important member countries to share the vision and activities of the organization.
He disclosed that his visit to the country was to inform the Nigerian authorities about the state of play of the new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement and to intimate on the progress that the OACPS has made since he became the Secretary General adding that the new Agreement will likely be signed by June 2022 in Samoa
The Secretary General who was accompanied by Nigeria’s Ambassador to Belgium, Obinna Chiedu Onowu said by virtue of the Revised Georgetown agreement, the OACPS is now an international organization stressing that OACPS is working on staffing and other housekeeping issues and implementing the decisions of Heads of State at the last summit in Nairobi in 2019.
Georges also stressed the need to consolidate on the South-South Cooperation amongst OACPS members.
He disclosed that the 10th Summit of OACPS Heads of State and Government will hold in Luanda, Angola in December, 2022 where emphasis will be laid on the South-South cooperation.
Responding, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the ideals of the organization assuring of the country’s continued support for OACPS. He also commended the Secretary General for the transformation going on at the organization.
The Minister informed the Secretary General that Nigeria is in the final stages of acceding to revised Georgetown Agreement of the OACPS adding that Mr. Georges should ensure that OACPS programmes and projects are distributed to member states in a manner that will bring OACPS closer to its people and cause the latter to take ownership of those projects.
He also highlighted Nigeria’s robust efforts at South- South cooperation through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate of Technical Aid Corps
The Minister who averred that intra OACPS trade must be encouraged always commended the organization for the support given to Nigeria’s candidate for the WTO, Director General, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala
Georges was also at the TAC where he commended the vision and activities since it was established in 1987.
The Secretary General who was surprised that such a programme exists, said it was an important vehicle to South -South cooperation adding that he was happy with its extensive reach with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific states.
He promised to send Director in charge of OACPS regional office in Equatorial Guinea to visit Nigeria to understudy the programme and make recommendations.
The Secretary General advised Nigeria to share the brilliant story of TAC with other countries and promised to create avenue for the Director General of TAC to talk with the officials of the organization during one of their meetings in Brussels
Earlier, the Director General of TAC Pius Olakunle OsunyikanmI enumerated the vision, programmes and activities since he assumed office.
He disclosed that Nigerian volunteers are currently working in different fields of endeavor in Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Niger, Senegal in Africa and Jamaica, Belize in the Caribbean, while experiencing little difficulties in penetrating the Pacific regions
Osunyikanmi revealed that 250 medical doctors are currently engaged with 100 more on the waiting list.
According to him, requests are being received beyond regular partners, such as Brazil and Vietnam. While thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for funding the programme the Director General expressed concern about lack of response from a few countries. He welcomes collaborations with OACPS.
OACPS, formerly known as the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, is an organisation created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975. It is 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.