Onyeama: Buhari in Excellent Shape to Lead Delegation to UNGA


Abimbola Akosile

The Federal Government has said President Muhammadu Buhari is in excellent shape and form to lead the Nigerian delegation to the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, USA.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who declared this at a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York yesterday, said Buhari was “now firing up”.

The Presidency had said Buhari would depart Abuja on Sunday for New York to participate at the high-level events.
Onyeama said speculations in some quarters about the president’s health and his ability to withstand the rigours of the high-level event scheduled from Sept. 19 to 25, was unnecessary.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is in very good health to lead the UN General Assembly delegation. The president is in excellent form in every way possible. We had the Federal Executive Council Meeting on Wednesday that lasted very long beyond the usual. He presided over the Federal Executive Council meeting throughout. He’s now firing up and very fantastic,” Onyeama said.
According to him, there is no doubting the fact that the president would make the trip to the US and participate in all the events scheduled for the country.

The minister stressed: “He (Buhari) will make the trip; you know the buzz word in the world today is ‘fake news’. So I think it’s a reality of modern journalism, may be because the internet, the cyber face makes journalist of everybody.
“So all kinds of news filter through but the reality is that Mr. President will be here. He’s in excellent health and he’s going to be leading a very strong high-level Nigerian delegation.

Onyeama said, aside other high-level engagement, Buhari would meet with US President Donald Trump to further strengthen the bilateral tie between the two countries. The Nigerian leader would hold a lunch meeting with Trump along with other world leaders.

“The relations are good, so we just hope they would continue to be good and by all accounts, we are going in the right direction. What would be discussed are some of the global issues – trade issues with Africa, conflict in Africa, global conflict will also certainly be discussed,” the minister said.

The high point of Buhari’s activities would be his participation in the General Debate during which he would deliver Nigeria’s National Statement on Tuesday, the first day of the general debate.
THISDAY recalls that President Buhari also led the Nigerian delegation to the landmark 70th UNGA in September 2015, where the new global 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted.

The Foreign Affairs Minister has also asserted that Nigeria does not require any international help to curtail any threats posed by the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

Onyeama, at a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday evening, said the threat from the self-agitation group would be handled.

“IPOB is as of now an internal threat and Nigeria does not need international assistance to resolve it,” the minister said.
According to him, IPOB is different from the Boko Harm terrorists which main aim was to capture territory and to kill innocent people.

“The President is prepared to tell world leaders that the ingredients for a happy, peaceful country are good governance and a strong economy. If we can get the economy right and we can get the good governance to our people, we believe that most of our problems would be taken care of.

“We are a country of young people; the majority of our population is under the age of 35 and a lot of them are restless. They are restless because of economic opportunities and that is why we have the migration issue.
“A lot of the youths are the product of very bad governance over the years and that has deprived the young people of educational opportunities and job opportunities. So Mr. President is trying to restructure the country to put in place the bases for good governance.

“Because once you have good governance and your resources are being channeled to where they are supposed to be, which is on development, then you begin to address a lot of issues,” Onyeama added.

He said unlike IPOB, Boko Haram was not an internal threat but international, pointing out its allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Meanwhile, the foreign affairs minister said the position of President Muhammadu Buhari was that the Constitution of the country should be respected. He cautioned that the country’s democracy was still growing and needed to mature and become stronger to handle some of the democratic challenges.
“The important thing we should be focusing on is nation-building using the existing democratic structures,” the minister said.

According to him, the Buhari administration has an agenda for the country and does not want to be distracted from achieving that agenda.

“I think that Mr. President came and had an agenda for the country and you really just don’t want to be distracted from that agenda. The economy was in a terrible state when this government came in, we went into recession for the first time in decades and we’re just coming out of that recession.

“We want to keep on that path and we believe that a lot of these issues and challenges in the country have their bases in the economics. If we can provide a good living standard and quality of life for our people, all these issues (Biafra agitation) will fall by the way side.

“That is why we must not be distracted from transforming the economy of our country. What I’m saying is that we want to focus on the economy. We believe if we can get the economy right, a lot of the young people who feel that Nigeria as presently constituted is not addressing their problems, is not giving them the hope, will change their perspective,” he said, adding that government would continue to respect free speech, human right and the Rule of Law.

Onyeama said the Nigerian military respect the ‘rule of engagement’ in carrying out its duties. He said one of the priorities for the Nigerian delegation at UNGA 72 included strengthening human rights institutions and the rule of law.
He explained that Nigeria was on the Board of the UN Human Rights Council and as such was doing everything necessary to promote human rights. According to him, the country is also committed to addressing all issues relating to human rights violations in any forms.