Ex-Commonwealth scribe to visit Nigeria for EU-ECOWAS trade deal

Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Sir Shridath Ramphal, is expected to arrive Nigeria on Sunday, ahead of the EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) meeting in Abuja.

The inter- regional trade agreement forum is being organised by Africa Today, in partnership with the Bank of Industry.

The two-day event, scheduled for July 28 and 29, is expected to play host to top government officials, captains of industry and diplomats, among others.

As part of Ramphal’s itinerary in the country, his historic memoir, ‘Glimpses of a Global Life,’ will also be formally presented and launched for the first time in Africa.

Publisher of Africa Today, Kayode Soyinka, who is also the chief host of the conference, told journalists that the former Commonwealth Secretary General will be in Nigeria on the invitation of the magazine.

“Sir Ramphal is a great friend of Nigeria and he has many old friends here in Nigeria, including Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who took over from him as Secretary-General.

“I am pleased that he has accepted our invitation to come. His choice as special guest of honour could not be better as the participants would benefit from his deep knowledge of the EPA, especially as it affects the developing world and Africa in particular,” Soyinka said.

Soyinka noted that as a great friend of Nigeria and Africa, Ramphal, while he was secretary-general of the Commonwealth, championed many laudable causes, including the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (EPG), which Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Australia’s former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser co-chaired.

“His coming to Nigeria and also the arrival of Sir Ronald Sanders who is contesting to be the next Secretary-General for the EPA conference, is a reflection of the international community’s acceptance of Nigeria as a thriving democracy, especially with the transparent way in which our president Muhammadu Buhari was recently elected,” Soyinka added.

This is Ramphal’s first visit to Nigeria since leaving Marlborough House, the Commonwealth Secretariat, in London, as its Secretary-General in 1990. In 1975, he became the second Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, serving for 15 years, before handing over to Anyaoku in 1990.

During his tenure, the Commonwealth undertook work on global issues such as the reduction of trade protectionism, addressing the vulnerability of small states and climate change. His work at the Secretariat greatly helped the Commonwealth evolve from an association of countries with a common British heritage into one with a global outlook and a forward-looking agenda.

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