Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Exactly 30 years after Nigeria produced the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, will on Tuesday, assume office as the 74th President of UNGA.
Muhammad-Bande will formally take charge of UNGA at a two-day ceremony scheduled to take place Monday and Tuesday, September 16 and 17, at the UN headquarters in New York ahead of the high-level UNGA week when world leaders will take turns to address the general assembly.
Muhammad-Bande’s emergence as UNGA president early this week will mark the second time that Nigeria has the golden opportunity to ascend such a global position after General Joseph Garba (rtd.), a military diplomat, emerged 62nd UNGA President in 1989.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, at the weekend said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, will lead a Nigerian government team to the historic event.
Other members of the team, according to the statement, include the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar, and Shehu.
According to the statement, Muhammad-Bande was elected the President of the 74th Session of UNGA by acclamation on June 4, this year, with the mandate to serve in the office for one-year as statutorily required.
He will take over from Ecuadorean Foreign Affairs Minister, Ms María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, who was elected the 73rd President of UNGA on June 5, 2018.
Shehu said the Nigeria’s representative to the UN had a strong mandate from his home government, the Federal Government of Nigeria, which nominated him, adding that the nomination received the backing of the Group of African States and adopted unanimously by the member-states.
The statement added: “The Muhammad-Bande presidency, coming 30 years after this country’s first, presents entire Nigeria and Africa a unique opportunity to ensure the implementation of the existing mandates for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with particular focus on peace and security, poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion.
“The General Assembly under Muhammad-Bande will also play a role in bridging the gaps and promoting collective action to address all international issues that deserve attention, in close coordination and collaboration with the Secretary-General, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.”