In what appears to be a valedictory session for President Muhammadu Buhari at the just concluded 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Nigerian leader reeled out some faced by Nigeria and strategies adopted by his government to tackle them.
President Buhari called for more commitment by world leaders to the resolution of conflicts being driven by non-state actors; proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons; terrorism; violent extremism; malignant use of technology; climate change; irregular migration, and disparities in opportunities for improved standards of living.
President Buhari said: “As I approach the end of my second and final four-year term, I am reminded of how much has changed in Nigeria, in Africa, and in the world, and yet, how some challenges remain.”
The theme for the UNGA 77th, which opened on September 13, is ‘A Watershed Moment: Transformative Solutions to Interlocking Challenges. The key topics of discussion at UNGA 77 include energy crisis, climate action, ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and a special ‘Transforming Education’ summit.”
He said, “As president, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair and transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice, “he added.
According to Buhari, “We are now more severely tested by these enduring and new global challenges, paramount among which are conflicts increasingly being driven by non-state actors, proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, terrorism, violent extremism, malignant use of technology, climate change, irregular migration, and disparities in opportunities for improved standards of living.
“Despite the challenging international environment, the United Nations has proved that it can be strong when the will of its members is harnessed for positive collective action. The guiding principle of this extraordinary institution is the promotion of peace and security, development and human rights.
“Latest in a chain of events challenging these principles is the Ukraine conflict which has already created strains that are perhaps unprecedented for a generation. Such a conflict will have adverse consequences for us all, hindering our capacity to work together to resolve conflicts elsewhere, especially in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia.
“Indeed, the ongoing war in Ukraine is making it more difficult to tackle the perennial issues that feature each year in the deliberations of this Assembly, such as nuclear disarmament, the right of the Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for statehood and reduction of inequalities within and amongst nations.
“The danger of escalation of the war in Ukraine further justifies Nigeria’s resolute calls for a nuclear-free world and a universal Arms Trade Treaty, which are also necessary measures to prevent global human disasters. In this regards we must find quick means to reach consensus on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty with related commitments by nuclear weapon states.
“I remain firmly convinced that the challenges that have come so sharply into focus in recent years and months emphasize the call by Nigeria and many other member-states for the reform of the Security Council and other United Nations agencies.
“We need more effective and representative structures to meet today’s demands that have since outgrown a system designed for the very different world that prevailed at its foundation in 1945. Change is long overdue.”
On the COVID-19 pandemic he said, “Mr. President, This is the first meeting we are having here in New York without the restrictions that characterised the last three years. The COVID-19 pandemic ripped across National borders like a toxic whirlwind, leaving in its wake a legacy of pain and loss.
“Happily, we also witnessed an incredible level of innovation and creativity from those who devised treatments and vaccines. These laudable achievements were underpinned by partnerships and international cooperation. We have also seen the bravery, care and endurance of health professionals at every corner of the globe.
“I am happy to note that in Nigeria, our healthcare agencies were able to form effective local management and engaged international partnerships with multinational initiatives like COVAX and private groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. These efforts helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic and we were mercifully spared the images of overwhelmed hospitals, overworked healthcare personnel and high mortality which sadly we saw elsewhere.
“With COVID-19, we saw very clearly how states tried to meet the challenge of a threat that could not be contained within national borders. The results were mixed; but at its best, cooperation among stakeholders was outstanding. It facilitated solutions that saved countless lives and eased the huge burden of human suffering.”
There is no doubt that the 17th UNGA offered President Buhari a unique and veritable platform to vent his frustration in fighting terrorism, which has international connectivity, in the nearly eight years of his administration with little or no success.
We commend Mr President for drawing attention to the urgency the dire situation deserves. His appeal should not go unheeded; leaders across the globe must act now, not merely to save Nigerians but also to save the entire humanity.