President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday delivered a speech at United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77).
He spoke on climate change, the Russia-Ukraine war and the need for credible elections, calling on world leaders to remain committed towards ensuring sustainable development.
Below is the full speech.
Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I congratulate you on your well-deserved election as President of the 77th Session of this August Assembly. I assure you of the full support and cooperation of the Nigerian delegation during your tenure.
I commend your predecessor, H.E. Abdullah Shahid, for the many remarkable achievements of the General Assembly under his leadership during these challenging times.
May I also congratulate the Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres on his ceaseless and untiring efforts to promote peace, security and development, very much in line with his exalted role.
Mr. President, the first time I could have addressed this August Assembly was in 1984, when I was the Military Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thirty-one years later, I had the great privilege to personally address the Assembly in 2015, as the democratically elected President of my country. As I approach the end of my second and final four-year term, I am reminded of how much has changed in Nigeria, in Africa, and in the world, and yet, how some challenges remain.
We are now more severely tested by these enduring and new global challenges, paramount among which are conflicts increasingly being driven by non-state actors, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, terrorism, violent extremism, malignant use of technology, climate change, irregular migration, and disparities in opportunities for improved standards of living.
Despite the challenging international environment, the United Nations has proved that it can be strong when the will of its members is harnessed for positive collective action. The guiding principles of this extraordinary institution is the promotion of peace and security, development and human rights. Latest in a chain of events challenging these principles is the Ukraine conflict which has already created strains that are perhaps unprecedented for a generation.
Such a conflict will have adverse consequences for us all, hindering our capacity to work together to resolve conflicts elsewhere, especially in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia. Indeed, the ongoing war in Ukraine is making it more difficult to tackle the perennial issues that feature each year in the deliberations of this Assembly, such as nuclear disarmament, the right of the Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for statehood and reduction of inequalities within and amongst nations.
The danger of escalation of the war in Ukraine further justifies Nigeria’s resolute calls for a nuclear-free world and a universal Arms Trade Treaty, which are also necessary measures to prevent global human disasters. In this regards we must find quick means to reach consensus on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty with related commitments by nuclear weapon states.
I remain firmly convinced that the challenges that have come so sharply into focus in recent years and months emphasise the call by Nigeria and many other Member-States for the reform of the Security Council and other UN Agencies. We need more effective and representative structures to meet today’s demands that have since outgrown a system designed for the very different world that prevailed at its foundation in 1945. Change is long overdue.
Mr. President, this is the first meeting we are having here in New York without the restrictions that characterised the last three years. The COVID-19 pandemic ripped across national borders like a toxic whirlwind, leaving in its wake a legacy of pain and loss.
Happily, we also witnessed an incredible level of innovation and creativity from those who devised treatments and vaccines. These laudable achievements were underpinned by partnerships and international cooperation. We have also seen the bravery, care, and endurance of health professionals at every corner of the globe.
I am happy to note that in Nigeria, our healthcare agencies were able to form effective local management and engaged international partnerships with multinational initiatives like COVAX and private groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. These efforts helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic and we were mercifully spared the images of overwhelmed hospitals, overworked healthcare personnel and high mortality which sadly we saw elsewhere.
With COVID-19, we saw very clearly how states tried to meet the challenge of a threat that could not be contained within national borders. The results were mixed; but at its best, cooperation among stakeholders was outstanding. It facilitated solutions that saved countless lives and eased the huge burden of human suffering.
That same theme of unilateralism and the promotion of national interest competing with the common cause in the face of an existential threat has been our recurring experience in recent times. In every address I have delivered to this august Assembly, I have dwelt on the issue of climate change, especially as it fuels conflicts and complicates food security.
Climate change reduces opportunity and prosperity which, in Africa, Latin America and some parts of Asia also contribute to transnational organised crimes.
As part of Nigeria’s efforts at achieving our Global Net-zero aspiration, the current Administration last year adopted a National Climate Change Strategy that aims to deliver climate change mitigation in a sustainable manner.
The measures we took at the national level also require climate justice. Africa and other developing nations produce only a small proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to industrial economies. Yet, we are the hardest hit by the consequences of climate change as we see in the sustained droughts in Somalia and floods of unprecedented severity in Pakistan.
These and other climate-related occurrences are now sadly becoming widely commonplace in the developing world. We are, in effect, literally paying the price for policies that others pursue. This needs to change.
At the COP26 in Glasgow last year, I did say that Nigeria was not asking for permission to make the same mistakes that others have made in creating the climate emergency.
Fortunately, we now know what we can do to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis and the related energy challenge. As a first step, we must all commit to releasing the financing and the technology to create a stable and affordable framework for energy transition.
Development Financial Institutions must prioritise de-risking energy projects to improve access of renewable projects to credit facilities. There should be no countries “left behind” in this equation.
Rocketing energy costs worldwide are, in part, the product of conflict and supply disruptions to Europe and the Americas. Yet, we are all paying the price. It is, therefore, our expectation that this UNGA 77 and the upcoming COP27 will help galvanise the political will required to drive action towards the fulfilment of the various existing climate change initiatives.
Another feature of the last decade has been the growing partnership between states and the increasingly influential non-state actors. There was a time when the most important event at this Assembly was the speech by the world’s most powerful leaders. Now a Tweet or Instagram post by an influencer on social or environmental issues may have greater impact.
Technology offers us nearly limitless opportunities and sometimes runs ahead of the imagination of regulators and legislators. At its best, social media helps strengthen the foundations of our society and our common values. At its worst, it is a corrosive digital version of the mob, bristling with intolerance and division.
When I began my tenure as President in 2015, distinctions were drawn between the experience of poorer countries and those apparently better able to manage the avalanche of unfiltered information. Nigeria has had many unsavoury experiences with hate speech and divisive disinformation. Increasingly, we also see that many countries face the same challenge. Clearly, data also know no borders.
In confronting these challenges, we must also come together to defend freedom of speech, while upholding other values that we cherish. We must continue to work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities to keep the most vulnerable from harm and help strengthen and enrich communities.
Efforts to protect communities from the scourge of disinformation and misinformation must also be matched with efforts to reduce inequalities and restore hope to our poorer and most vulnerable of our communities as a means to stem the many socio-economic conflict drivers with which we are faced.
In spite of our efforts, humanitarian crises will continue to ravage some of our communities. Nigeria, therefore, implores our global partners to do more to complement our endeavours.
Indeed, the multifaceted challenges facing most developing countries have placed a debilitating chokehold on their fiscal space. This equally calls for the need to address the burden of unsustainable external debt by a global commitment to the expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to countries facing fiscal and liquidity challenges as well as outright cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges.
Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Democracy is an idea that crosses time and borders. Certainly, democracy does have its limitations. The wheels of democracy turn slowly. It can demand compromises that dilute decisions. Sometimes, it bends too much to special interests that exercise influence, not always for the general good, in a manner disproportionate to their numbers. But it has been my experience that a democratic culture provides a Government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive change.
In Nigeria, not only have we worked to strengthen our democracy, but we have supported it and promoted the Rule of Law in our sub-region. In The Gambia, we helped guarantee the first democratic transition since independence. In Guinea-Bissau we stood by the democratically elected Government when it faced mutiny. And in the Republic of Chad, following the tragic death of its President, the late Idris Deby Itno in the battle field, we joined forces with its other neighbours and international partners to stabilise the country and encourage the peaceful transition to democracy, a process which is ongoing.
We believe in the sanctity of constitutional term limits and we have steadfastly adhered to it in Nigeria. We have seen the corrosive impact on values when leaders elsewhere seek to change the rules to stay on in power. Indeed, we now are preparing for general elections in Nigeria next February. At the 78th UNGA, there will be a new face at this podium speaking for Nigeria.
Ours is a vast country strengthened by its diversity and its common values of hard work, enduring faith and a sense of community. We have invested heavily to strengthen our framework for free and fair elections. I thank our partners for all the support that they have provided our election institutions.
As President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair and transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.
The multiple challenges that face us are truly interconnected and urgent, and your choice of this Session’s theme, “A watershed moment: Transformative solutions to interlocking challenges”, is apt. In keeping with our obligations as Member States of this noble Organisation, we all must do our utmost to work with you toward resolving them. In this regard, I reiterate my Delegation’s full and resolute cooperation.
Let me convey my final reflection from this famous podium. We live in extraordinary times with interdependent challenges but enormous opportunities. The pace of change can seem bewildering, with sometimes a palpable and unsettling sense of uncertainty about our future. But if my years in public service have taught me anything, it is that we must keep faith with those values that endure. These include, but are not limited to such values as justice, honour, integrity, ceaseless endeavour, and partnership within and between nations.
Our strongest moments have always been when we remain true to the basic principles of tolerance, community, and abiding commitment to peace and goodwill towards all.
I thank you all.
Retired soldiers protect against non-payment of security allowance
Some retired soldiers on Monday protested in Abuja over non-payment of their security debarment allowances, among others.
The protesters who defied the rains demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Defence headquarters, clutching mats and banners as well as singing.
The protesters lamented the non-payment of their Security Debarment Allowance, among others.
They were joined by some relatives of deceased military personnel, blocking access road to the ministry located at Ship House on Olusegun Obasanjo Way in the Federal Capital Territory.
The military veterans under the aegis of the Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces and the Coalition of Concerned Veterans, accused the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), of being insensitive to their plight.
Addressing reporters during the protest, spokesman for the CVV, Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, vowed that they would not leave the ministry’s entrance until their demands were met.
He said they had already made arrangement to sleep overnight if the situation warranted it.
“We are here alongside our wives and children, and the widows of late military personnel and veterans who died in service, some of whom died fighting Boko Haram terrorists. We’ll be sleeping over at this place until the Minister of Defence, Magashi accede to our demands,” he said.
On his part, the National Secretary of RMNAF, Roy Okhidievbie, explained that the demonstration was to demand the payment of their security debarment allowance owed them by the Federal Government.
He accused the minister of refusing to disburse the allowances despite approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We have had meetings with the Defence Minister, Magashi, but he appears to be headstrong, heartless, and unperturbed concerning the grievances of retired military officers, as he never paid nor showed any interest or concern to pay these allowances, especially the Security Debarment Allowance.
“Interestingly, President Buhari-led administration has approved the payment of this allowance, but Magashi has refused to make disbursements,”
In January, some retired soldiers under the aegis of the Coalition of Concerned Veterans protested against the non-payment of their pension arrears for 24 months.
The veterans who gathered at the Ministry of Finance headquarters, Abuja, insisted on getting answers to their demands, or else they would continue protesting.
They were seen with placards on which various inscriptions were written. One of the placards reads, “CCV demands immediate payment of security debarment allowance.” Another read, “Military veterans demand 24 months arrears of minimum wage approved.”
Nationwide outage as grid collapses to zero megawatts again
Nigeria was thrown into a total blackout Monday morning as the national grid collapsed to zero megawatts (MW).
The latest incident, which reportedly occurred at 10:51am Monday, is the seventh time the power grid would collapse this year.
This came just days after electricity consumers said they had enjoyed improved supply.
Some power distribution companies including Kaduna Electric, Enugu and Kano have already communicated the nationwide outage to their customers, adding that efforts were being made to restore supply.
The national electricity grid as of 10am on Monday had 3,712MW generated from 21 power generation companies (GenCos) before it dropped to 0MW one hour after, Daily Trust reported.
It stated that information from the System Operations, a section of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), indicated only Afam IV was on the grid but with zero supply as of 12noon.
It also showed that as of Sunday, the highest generation was 4,100MW while the lowest was 3,652MW with the frequency hovered between 49.04 Hertz (Hz) and 50.34Hz.
Electricity consumers have attested to improvement in supply in their various areas since July this year.
For instance, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recently confirmed increment in its daily allocation to over 500MW from the actual 300MW it had distributed before then.
Though the national grid had not cross 5,000MW, Daily Trust observed that level of load rejection especially around the DisCos’ networks had dropped significantly with some customers entitled to five-hour supply, recording over 12 hours daily.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had attributed the improvement in power supply nationwide to the partial activation of contracts seeking to hold sector operators liable for deliberate incompetence.
The national grid collapsed twice, in July and in August but was quickly restored and power supply improvement was sustained before the latest system collapse on Monday.
Although the TCN, the national grid manager, was yet to establish the cause of the crash, some insider said it could be as a result of a maintenance of the 330 kilovolts Jos – Bauchi transmission line maintenance slated for Monday.
2023: PFN disowns Bishops for holding meeting with Tinubu
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has disowned the “Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria” for holding meeting with Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Deputy National Secretary of the PFN, Bishop David Bakare, told reporters in a telephone interview that such group was not known to the PFN, saying, “there is nothing in PFN that is regional based like Southern or Northern Pentecostal Bishops.”
Bakare, who maintained that the PFN is an arm of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said the position of the fellowship on same faith presidential ticket of the APC has not changed.
“The meeting between Tinubu and the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria has nothing to do with PFN. I am speaking to you officially and authoritatively that the ranks of the Christian community and of course, the PFN which I represent, is not broken at all.
“The Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria is not known to the PFN. The forum does not have any affiliation or relationship with the PFN that is registered with the government of this nation.”
He added that the position of the PFN “on same faith ticket still stands as it was in the beginning and we have not, for any reason, shifted our position on that matter…
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The PFN was not a part of the meeting with the presidential candidate that was highly politicised. We are, however, aware of the ripples in the public domain about this matter. I am speaking officially to clarify that the PFN has nothing to do with that organisation.
“We didn’t take such a decision, we have not met that political party and whatever we will do would be in the public domain. That group is on its own and has nothing to do with the real incorporated PFN. I looked at the photos (from the meeting) and the names. I could recognised about two people who are our members, but they speak for themselves.”
He’s procuring fake Christian groups -Babachir
This is a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, accused the presidential candidate of the APC of procuring fake Christian groups in a desperate bid to convince the electorate to accept the same faith ticket.
The SGF, in a statement, disclosed that a number of Nigerians have reached out to him and former Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, to convince them to accept the same faith presidential and vice presidential ticket.
“We have so far not taken the road to reconciliation because in the first instance, neither the APC as a party nor its presidential candidate has bothered to seek us out for reconciliation even though early on, our doors were left open for such.
“We only get to learn of their views through vile propaganda in the media courtesy of their rabid attack dogs who they have procured in abundance.
“There are of course some ‘Christian’ turncoats and ‘Judases’ who, driven either by moral turpitude, poverty or greed, have hired themselves out as agents and spoilers of this noble Christian course.
“To this group, I wish to recommend the study of the biographies of Judas Iscariot and Ahithophel in the Bible. Be careful to note how their lives ended
“It seems that Bola/Kashim’s preferred approach is to attempt to counter our position through insults and sponsored fake Christian organisations in order to create the impression that there is division within the Christendom on this matter.
“Needless to say, this tactic has failed woefully. They are now the butt of jokes in church gatherings all over the country. Unknown to them, Church history emphatically records that Christians are more united in terms of adversity and persecution as now being propelled by this same faith ticket of the APC.
“This approach has also portrayed the duo as arrogant and pitiable people whilst also exposing them to the public as people with unimaginable deficiencies of noble character.
“The reality is that for each minute that this same-faith ticket duo have spent on their Goebellsian propaganda, they have ended up spending several hours more trying to rebutt the controversies that they themselves create in the process.
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“Everyone, including some notable Christian haters, are now inviting false Bishops and ‘CAN leaders’ to meetings. They are busy fabricating overnight “Christian” organisations that churn out falsehood to the public. It is such a pity that people who intend to lead our country could descend to such low levels of morality and deficiency of conscience.”
We’re consulting for a pan Nigerian platform to adopt -Dogara
Former Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said having rejected the divisive same faith ticket, they were consulting with relevant Islamic and Christians leaders to jointly adopt a pan-Nigerian platform that all of them would support in 2023.
He stated this in a lecture entitled: “Nigerian democracy post 1999: Progress, diversity and national unity” and magazine launch and awards event organised by MUPUN youths association in Jos.
Mr. Dogara, who was represented by the former member representing Pankshin, Kanke Kanam federal constituency of Plateau, Timothy Golu, said when some of them rose against the same faith ticket, it was because they were bothered by the issues and insistence on same faith ticket and same faith voting which is tantamount to summoning a jihad to collide with a crusade.
He explained tha, the people promoting “this combustible agenda” hate the North and by extension, Nigeria, adding that they wanted to “use religion to weaken the North first for some sinister schemes because our weakness is their strength.
“Take it or leave it, if Nigeria has a major promise those that will deliver on it will be those of you who will summon the courage to embrace people of other faiths in the spirit of justice equity and fairplay. The truth is that no one will root out Islam just like no one will root out Christianity from the North or Nigeria.
“If that is the case, why won’t Christians and Muslims work together on the many things we agree upon to make Plateau, the North and Nigeria great? All that bothers us is the progress of all Nigerians regardless of creed.”
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‘Ex-SGF undermining goodwill of northern Christians’
Replying, Yakubu Dati, Chief of Staff to the Director General, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Governor Simon Lalong, accused Babachir Lawal of trying to isolate Christians in the north from playing significant roles in the mainstream politics of Nigeria.
He accused him of trying to lead northern Christians in the wrong direction because he lost the bid to be appointed running mate to Tinubu.
“Last time I checked, Babachir Lawal does not have the mandate to speak on behalf of northern Christians because he was never elected to lead any such group and does not command the respect of the average northern Christians. Even in his native Hong Local Government, Lawal does not have a voice, as his voice thins out when other respected personalities from the area like the current SGF, Boss Mustapha, speak.
“But more profoundly is the fact that Babachir Lawal talks as one who does not have a sense of history hence he is trying to carve out a region out of Nigeria to make them a target of derision and scorn.
Without anybody sending him, Lawal is trying to damage the reputation of northern Christians who have all along been accommodating and tolerant of other Nigerians,” he said.
Dati observed that Northern Christians in Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kwara etc were not known to be hostile, self-serving or epitomise bigotry as Lawal was trying to portray them, noting that the northern Christians have worked peacefully and harmoniously with other Nigerians and while they demand equity and fairness in all affairs, do not stake their integrity on the altar of tokenism of political office.
“The northern Christians have taken the front seats in some administrations and played other roles in others and other sections of the country have understood the exigencies of such era and have been cooperative.
Yakubu Gowon, a northern Christian, has been head of state, while TY Danjuma, Joe Garba, Domkat Bali, Shagaya, etc have held responsible positions in this country at one time or the other,” he said.
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