President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, urged the world to strive for peace and decent living for all people.
Buhari, in his address harped on the need to fight corruption both locally and internationally.
NAN report that,Buhari, who delivered Nigeria’s National Statement, lauded the international community’s support against Boko Haram and for providing support to address the huge humanitarian challenges in Nigeria’s North-East.
He also commended the UN for its role in delivering humanitarian assistance to civilians in the midst of violent conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Mr. Buhari particularly applauded Germany, Italy, Greece, and Turkey for hosting refugees escaping war torn countries.
Mr. Buhari similarly praised the international community for delivering security and humanitarian assistance in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions, which have been ravaged by terrorism.
“In an exemplary show of solidarity, the international community came together within my own region to assist the countries and communities in the Sahel.
“The international community also assisted the Lake Chad regions to contain the threats posed by Al Qaida and Boko Haram.
“We thank the Security Council for visiting the countries of the Lake Chad Basin to assess the security situation and humanitarian needs and for pledging assistance to rebuild lives and livelihoods.
“Indeed, in Nigeria we are providing relief and humanitarian assistance to millions in internally displaced camps and those afflicted by terrorism, drought, floods and other natural disasters,” he said.
The president also assured the UN of Nigeria’s support, especially at this troubled time in the life of the organisation.
“I assure you of my country’s solidarity and cooperation. You will indeed, need the cooperation of all member-states as we are meeting during extra-ordinarily troubled and dangerous times.”
According to him, the previous year has witnessed many far-reaching developments, including the Iran Nuclear Deal, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the North Korean nuclear crisis.
Buhari commended UN for helping to settle thousands of civilians in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
He also lauded the Governments of Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey for assisting hundreds of thousands of refugees.
“In the last year, the international community came together to focus on the need for gender equality, youth empowerment, social inclusion, and the promotion of education, creativity and innovation.
“The frontiers of good governance, democracy, including holding free and fair elections, and enthronement of the rule of law are expanding everywhere, especially in Africa.
“Our faith in democracy remains firm and unshaken. Our regional organisation, ECOWAS, came together to uphold democratic principles in The Gambia as we had done previously in Cote D’Ivoire,” he said.
According to the president, through individual national efforts, state institutions are being strengthened to promote accountability, and to combat corruption and asset recovery in Africa.
“These can only be achieved through the international community cooperating and providing critical assistance and material support.
“We shall also cooperate in addressing the growing transnational crimes such as forced labour, modern day slavery, human trafficking and cybercrime. These cooperative efforts should be sustained.
“We must collectively devise strategies and mobilise the required responses to stop fleeing ISIS fighters from mutating and infiltrating into the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.
“The Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin are where there are insufficient resources, and response capacity is weak.
“This will require strong UN cooperation with regional organisations, such as the African Union, in conflict prevention and management,” he said.
The Nigerian leader condemned the Myanmar crisis, saying the Rohingya crisis was state-backed.
“The international community cannot remain silent and not condemn the horrendous suffering caused by what, from all indications, is a state-backed programme of brutal de-population of the Rohingya inhabited areas in Myanmar on the bases of ethnicity and religion.
“We fully endorse the call by the Secretary-General on the Government of Myanmar to order a halt to the ongoing ethnic cleansing and ensure the safe return of the displaced Rohingya to their homes in safety and dignity.
“In all these crises, the primary victims are the people, the most vulnerable being women and children.
“That is why the theme of this session, Focusing on People: Striving or Peace and Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet, is most apposite,” he said.
According to NAN, him, the most pressing threat to international peace and security today is the accelerated nuclear weapons development programme by North Korea.
Buhari, therefore, urged that necessary pressure and diplomatic efforts must be brought to bear on North Korea to accept peaceful resolution of the crisis.
“Nigeria proposes a strong UN delegation to urgently engage the North Korean Leader. The delegation, led by the Security Council, should include members from all the regions.”
Buhari reiterated Nigeria’s abiding commitment to the foundational principles and goals of the UN.
“Since our admission as a member state in 1960, we have always participated in all efforts to bring about global peace, security and development.
“Nigeria will continue to support the UN in all its efforts, including the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,”.
In his speech to the UN Assembly, Buhari said how to restructure the world body should be priority number one.
The president said that good governance, democracy, and rule of law were expanding in Africa, emphasizing the proactive role played by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in upholding democracy in the Gambia.
He called attention to crises in Yemen and Myanmar, likening the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in the latter country to the crises in Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s. He said Nigeria supports the Secretary-General’s call on Myanmar to stop its ethnic cleansing of Rohingya.
FULL SPEECH OF PRESIDENT BUHARI AT 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York
The president of the United Nation’s General Assembly, Your Excellencies, Heads of States and governments, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election to preside over the 72nd session of the United Nations’ General Assembly. I also wish to express my country’s appreciation to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, for his steady leadership and this body’s dedication to the search for a peaceful and equitable world through the charter of the United Nations.
Every year we gather here to deliberate on the affairs of the world. Sometimes we implement what we talked about and move humanity an inch closer to that ideal relationship as members of the world community.
At other times, we have our talks and end up not implementing anything to the disappointment of millions and millions of people around the world who look up to this body to provide leadership in a world that is constantly oscillating between advancement and doom.
In all of these, we often forget that what we have accomplished in the last 72 years is unprecedented in the annals of human history. The world may be badly governed, but the fact that there is a form of governance agreed upon by all is an accomplishment in and of itself. So, I congratulate us all.
Mr. President, as we say in Nigeria, he who does not look ahead remains behind. Our charge now is to aspire to make this world better for the next generation. We, the generation that knows how the world was before the United Nations was formed, must bequeath to those coming behind us a better United Nations that would be in a position to deal with the challenges of tomorrow. To accomplish that, we need to fast forward the reformation long proposed in this chamber.
To restructure or not to restructure is no longer the question – the United Nations must be restructured for it to remain relevant in years to come. How to restructure the United Nations should be our priority number one. Several ideas are out there. All that we need is to get them together and agree on what works for majority of the people of this world.
As a leader of one of the leading African nations, I want to see a United Nation’s Security Council that is expanded to have one or two African permanent members with veto powers. It is a fair thing to do – one that will benefit the world by giving it a chance for a more balanced outlook to matters of importance to us all. As we have learned in Nigeria, sometimes you need to change in order to remain the same. It is the first principle of renewal.
In the continent of Africa, the post-colonial era is going into a new phase. In another generation, there would not be any African alive who could remember when European powers once governed Africa. That emerging generation is creating new challenges for the African order left behind by the colonial powers.
My generation is managing that challenge with the hope of leaving behind nation states that are less prone to crisis. We cannot continue to pretend that conflicts that emerged as a result of our colonial heritage have been resolved. Across our continent, they are still there. In some cases, bad governance is exacerbating these conflict points.
Here are some of the things we are doing to make sure that we bequeath to the upcoming generations of Africans a continent that is healthy, wealthy and well grounded in law and order. We are close to enshrining in the African Union’s creed the fundamental principle of democracy, which says that a credible people’s mandate should determine who governs any nation across Africa. We are taking it a step further by pushing to make that mandate limited.
We believe that Africa has numerous talents and no man or woman should be in the leadership saddle for an inordinate time. We are also working hard to expand the African market and open it up for our people to benefit from the free flow of goods, services and knowledge across the continent. It is the only path to prosperity for over one billion people in Africa yearning for opportunities to show the world the potentials they have.
As Africans, we will continue to build partnerships across the world. As we stretch our hands out for friendship, we do so with the expectation that our hands would be met not with pity and charity but with respect and dignity. Africans have a lot to offer the world, not just its minerals and human potentials. We are committed to resetting that old perception with a new one that proclaims Africa as a land ready for business. Those who have taken the steps to invest in Africa can attest to the mutual benefit that comes with it.
In areas of infrastructural developments, research and security, we urgently need a respectable and mutually beneficial partnership with the world. Integration of the continent and expansion of prosperity can only come when there are good roads, constant electricity, clean water and descent healthcare for our people. The United States government, The European Union, private investors and non-governmental organizations are getting involved in these ventures. Africa will continue to welcome the world in every enterprise that will uplift our people.
It is only when we add value and build capital that we will reduce the grim statistics of Africa’s child mortality rate from preventable deaths. It is only then that we can reduce deaths on the Mediterranean Sea of African youths running away from conflicts and poverty.
The challenge is ours. We accept the responsibility. As in the past, we know that we do well when we share skills and expertise. That was how we were able to work together with partners around the world to reduce the AIDS epidemic. That was how, in the last two decades, we were able to defeat diseases like polio, tuberculosis and ringworm in several parts of Africa.
Africans have always been appreciative of the assistance we receive. We have also paid back to the international community with our involvement in Peace Keeping missions across the world.
Mr. President, on matters of security, there is no gainsaying that when one part of the globe is insecure, all parts of the globe become potential victims of that insecurity. The activities of several extreme groups jeopardize not just the nation where they emanated but everyone far and in-between.
The free movement of fighters and weapons has all but made the issue of security a global problem. As we have learned in Nigeria, you compromise the security of the whole when components of the sum are not fully valued, appreciated and integrated with the whole.
We in Africa have been partners in the quest for a secure world. We will continue to be committed to the mission until all threats to peace across the world are eliminated. In Nigeria, we have degraded the capability of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
We are on the path to eliminating the last of their safe heavens. We have also secured the release of some of our abducted Chibok Girls. We are working hard to secure the release of the rest and to finish the job of closing the Boko Haram chapter and get the North East of Nigeria back to a peaceful region that it used to be.
Along this line, Mr. President, we at the United Nations need to do more to bring about a more equitable world where a large group of people does not feel suppressed, undervalued and alienated. Last year, I talked about the need for Palestinians to have their own state. Progress has not been made on that matter in the past one year. It is one of those problems that we must not punt to another generation.
Any glaring unfairness, like the Palestinian case, diminishes our moral authority to preach and lecture the world on other cases. As we have learned in Nigeria, our stubborn self-righteousness blocks our ears from hearing the cry of those that we left on the fringe of society and blocks our eyes from seeing and reading the handwriting on the wall.
In the urgent matter of the nuclear stand off with North Korea, we hope that calm heads prevail. And as our ancestors say, that the disobedient fowl does not wait to be put into a pot of soup before it obeys. We in Africa hope that North Korea and, indeed, all the nations with nuclear weapons will hasten to eliminate them all.
We don’t aspire to have nuclear weapons in the continent of Africa, the cradle of mankind. We will preserve Africa in case the nuclear-armed nations of the world decide to destroy themselves in their so-called mutual assured destruction.
Should that happen, be assured that there will be a place in Africa for those of you who will be lucky enough to survive your self-inflicted annihilation. While we do not wish for that, we have this saying in Nigeria that, “na when soldier slap you, you go sabi say police na your friend.
Mr. President, Nigeria is always willing to work with the United Nations and other international organizations to advance human progress. May the United Nations continue on its challenging task of being an instrument for peace, and may the goals that this General Assembly “for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet” be accomplished in our time.
Thank you all for listening.
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria