Alex Enumah in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari will lead the federal government’s delegation to the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, which begins on tomorrow.
Buhari will join other world leaders to address issues of global importance, as well as those peculiar to their different countries and regions.
According to the Presidency, the event is expected to provide President Buhari an opportunity to put into proper perspective some issues about his administration, which have been largely misconstrued, particularly as regards to human rights.
Only recently, Senator Tom Marino of the United States Congress wrote a letter to the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, asking the US government to withhold security assistance to Nigeria until President Buhari demonstrated what he described as a “commitment to inclusive government and the most basic tenets of democracy: freedom to assemble and freedom of speech.”
Minister of foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, while briefing journalist in Abuja on the UNGA 71 event, stated that the occasion would afford President Buhari an opportunity to let the world know that his administration has high regards for human rights.
“There is need to tell our own story and tell it persuasively too to get support from the world. We are not a sick patient looking for help. Nigeria is a power house seeking opportunity to play a greater role in global affairs,” he said.
Reacting to the alleged human right abuse by the Buhari administration, the minister said: “It would be an opportunity to put the record straight. Government does not interfere with the judiciary; neither does it interfere with the activities of the EFCC and other investigative bodies.”
Onyeama added that the administration had also made it a point of duty for security personnel, particularly those in battle field to uphold the tenets of human rights.
He disclosed that Nigeria would also seize the opportunity to canvass support for her candidates in various UN organisations, such as the Human Right Council and the International Civil Aviation, which is currently occupied by a Nigerian.
“It is important that Nigeria is involved in such because there are a lot of benefits for the country in it. Nigeria had already been elected into the civil aviation body and would be seeking re-election. Also, we are hoping to get a seat at the human rights council election coming towards the end of this year,” he said.
On the economic front, Onyeama said Nigeria would be the focus of a US/Africa business forum and that the president hopes to use the platform to attract huge foreign direct investment from the United States.
He said the president was doing everything possible to promote trade and investment in order to get the economy moving and lift the people out of poverty.
Not left out is the issue of refugee and migration, which the minister said was a growing concern to the European Union.
While noting that Nigeria plans to seek for more international support in tackling the issue of internally displace persons in the North-east, Onyeama disclosed that Nigeria was one of the countries whose nationals regularly migrated to Europe and, as such, would be having a special session with the EU.
The minister disclosed that the EU was putting about 31 billion Euros into countries in Africa and the Middle East but that Nigeria was the only African country invited to the forum.
The minister also disclosed that the president is expected to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which is symbolic, as the action would show to the world that Nigeria was serious about addressing issues of climate change.
Onyeama, however, disclosed that unlike other occasions, efforts have been made to keep the number of contingents to its barest minimum, adding that only those who have something concrete to contribute have been selected for the trip.