•Says FG committed to reconstruction of North-east
•Calls for uninhibited supply of COVID-19 vaccines to all nations
By Omololu Ogunmade
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged world leaders to redouble efforts to ensure collective security, noting that the litany of sophisticated terrorist attacks across the globe is a harsh reality of the challenges the world is facing today.
Buhari, who added that Nigeria is still facing extremism, called for the support of the United Nations counter-terrorism bodies to overcome terrorism in Nigeria.
He also argued that if the UN fails to mobilise and guarantee an effective response to COVID-19 pandemic, it would have failed the world, asking the global body to ensure uninhibited access to the virus’ vaccines by all nations.
According to him, the UN body would have failed the global community, which looks up to it to provide direction during a crisis of this magnitude.
The president made this submission on Tuesday night while delivering Nigeria’s national statement through a video-message, on the first day of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly debate.
He spoke on this year’s theme: “Future We Want, The United Nations We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism – Confronting Coronavirus through Effective Multilateral Action.”
According to him, ”In Nigeria, we are still facing violent extremism from the insurgency of Boko Haram and bandits.
”We continue to count on our strong cooperation with UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and neighbouring countries to overcome the terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin and the wider Sahel Region.
”We will vigorously sustain the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and resettlement of victims of terrorism and insurgency in the North-east. The North-east Development Commission has been established for that purpose.”
He said as the global community reflects on the desired future, the UN must realise that the entire world looks up to it as the world body.
He said: ”As we reflect on the future we want and the United Nations we need, we must realise that the people of the world not only look up to us: they count on us.
”If the United Nations system cannot mobilise the world to marshal out a truly effective and inclusive response to the coronavirus pandemic, then the United Nations would have failed in the core mission of giving expression, direction and solution to the yearnings of the international community.
”The future we want must guarantee human rights, human dignity, human prospects and prosperity. The principles of ‘Leaving No One Behind and Doing No Harm’ must be expressed through accountability, strategic growth initiatives, and elimination of threats of all kinds.”
The president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, said Buhari in his submission canvassed uninhibited supply of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to all.
The president also pledged Nigeria’s continuous partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and some countries to ensure accelerated development and manufacturing of the vaccines.
The statement said the president pledged Nigeria’s commitment to working with member states in the spirit of global cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general well-being.
He described this year’s theme of the General Assembly as most appropriate and timely, saying it captured the common desire for a renewed and revitalised organisation in need of multilateral approaches to many challenges facing the world.
Buhari told the world what Nigeria had done in its quest to provide a future of hope and prosperity for all citizens.
He added that his administration had also embarked on measures aimed at ensuring national resilience.
”We intend to achieve this through the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Medium Term National Development for the period 2020-2025 and 2026-2030,” he said, explaining: ”We expect that these ambitious initiatives will deliver sustainable economic growth and development to Nigeria.”
The president admonished the global community on necessary measures to consider in confronting COVID-19, suggesting the need for effective multilateral actions.
He expressed concern on the level of devastation the pandemic had done to the world economy, including straining the capabilities of the health systems of many countries such as Nigeria, and how the country is coping with the situation.
”In the aftermath of the Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, we prioritised vulnerable groups, including women, children, older persons, and the unemployed, in our efforts to provide medical and social assistance to cushion the socio-economic effects of the disease.
”Accordingly, we have expanded our National Social Register, to include an additional one million Nigerians. Our National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) has been the vehicle for reaching out to the poor and vulnerable members of the Nigerian population, as well as providing cover for over 12 million households,” he said.
He commended the efforts of the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in combating the pandemic, noting with appreciation the $2 billion Global Response Plan launched by the UN Secretary-General to fund the coronavirus response in the poorest countries.
The president also commended the Secretary-General’s call for a cease-fire in conflict areas to enable humanitarian assistance to reach groups vulnerable to the virus.
Buhari also spoke on poverty eradication in Nigeria, saying in order to mitigate its impact, his administration had commenced the disbursement of N10.9 billion to households on the platform of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as palliatives.
He said the government is also implementing a N500 billion fiscal stimulus package and sustained delivery of humanitarian and social interventions to poor and vulnerable households.
According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had launched a N3.5 trillion-stimulus package to boost manufacturing and facilitate import substitution.
He urged the international community to cooperate together in the effort to address the scourge of poverty, particularly in developing countries.
Buhari also commended the President of the 74th General Assembly, Prof Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, for launching an Alliance for Poverty Eradication in June.
He enjoined global leaders, particularly from the global North, to support the alliance at a time when the COVID-19 is reversing gains made in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and pushing an additional half a billion people into extreme poverty.
On disarmament, international peace, and security, Buhari said Nigeria remained deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons, particularly on the continent of Africa.
He called on the international community to renew efforts to stem this traffic and promote the Arms Trade Treaty with a view to codifying accountability in the battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and acts of piracy.
On illicit financial flows, the president said the global aspiration to recover from the impact of COVID-19 would not be fully met without addressing structures that make it more difficult for countries to generate and retain their financial resources.
The president again thanked Muhammad-Bande as well as the immediate past President of the Economic and Social Council, Ambassador Mona Jul, for jointly launching the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) for Achieving the 2030 Agenda.
Buhari also addressed other issues of interest to Nigeria including sustainable development goals (SDGs), nuclear disarmament, climate change, and migration to human rights, women empowerment, and gender parity, quality education and the UN reform.
On climate change, he reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the revitalisation of Lake Chad.
”We are convinced that recharging the Lake will improve the living conditions of our people in the area, promote inter-state cooperation, strengthen community resilience and assist in addressing environmental and security challenges threatening the region and its resources,” he said.
Buhari also renewed his call for international support for the regional efforts to raise $50 billion required to actualise this initiative.
On quality education, the president announced that Nigeria would be hosting the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools in 2021.
”Quality education for all is the cornerstone of sustainable development.
”I invite you all to Nigeria to participate in the conference which aims to advocate for the protection of education from attack as we work together towards the future we want,” he said.
The president ended his speech at the virtual event by reaffirming Nigeria’s commitment to promoting international peace, security, and sustainable development as well as strengthening partnerships and cooperation with international organisations.