Nigeria’s Agenda At the 74th UN General Assembly

By Adoba Echono, Abuja

United Nations General Assembly

The 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly; UNGA74, began in New York, United States of America this week with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria joining other global leaders to address the session on Tuesday.

The General Debates of the global meeting offers leaders the opportunity to present their National Statements as well as speak to the theme of the General Assembly. This year, UNGA74 has as its theme, “Galvanizing Multilateral Efforts for Poverty Eradication, Quality Education, Climate Action and Inclusion.”

President Buhari’s participation in the event is particularly significant as it coincides with Nigeria’s Presidency of the world organ.

On June 4, 2019, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, was unanimously elected as the President of UNGA74, to succeed Ms. Maria Espinosa from Ecuador, the President of the 73rd UN General Assembly, an indication of the country’s high esteem in global reckoning.

Professor Muhammad-Bande immediately set the tone for Nigeria’s policy direction during her one-year tenure which will terminate after the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations next year.

The election of Professor Muhammad-Bande as the head of the UN marked the second time Nigeria would be occupying the prestigious position, having occupied it first with late Major-General Joseph Garba during the UNGA44 in 1989.

The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has been scheduled to be the number five Speaker on the first day of the debates. This is another plus for Nigeria as it provides the country a great opportunity not only to project the country, but also articulate to the world, priorities of the Nigerian government.

While in New York, the Nigerian leader and members of his delegation will participate in the Climate Action Summit with the theme, “A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win,” convened by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.

Other programmes lined up for the Nigerian leader include the High-Level meeting on Universal Health Coverage with the theme, “Moving Together to Build a Healthier World”; UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development; High-Level Dialogue on Financial Development as well as High-Level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

The Nigerian delegation is also expected to participate at the Side-Events organised by the country’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
These include: SDGs Integration – Bridging the Policy Planning – Budget Gap for the Achievement of SDGs, organised by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals; Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows and Strengthen Good Practices on Assets Recovery and Return to Foster Sustainable Development, organised by the Office of the National Coordinator/CEO, African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development and African Peer Review Mechanism in collaboration with the Nigerian Economic Financial Crimes Commission and other anti-corruption bodies across the globe.

These events are designed to mobilise collective global action against illicit assets and their recovery and return for developmental projects in their respective countries.

The meetings will undoubtedly, boost the profile of President Muhammadu Buhari as the African Union anti-corruption Champion and facilitate Nigeria’s pursuit of the repatriation of her stolen monies stashed in foreign accounts.

Similarly, the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources has planned a side-event on Sanitation and Hygiene Campaign for a Clean Nigeria. The side-event is crucial to Nigeria to galvanize support from donor nations and organizations to support towards ending the country’s open defecation by 2025.

Expectedly, bilateral meetings with some leaders of other delegations; Chief Executive Officers of Blue Chip companies like Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote and Bill Gates on sustaining the polio-free campaign and other select group of  top American based Nigerian businessmen on issues relating to human capital projects and development to boost investments drive of the country will be held.

As part of his engagements on the sidelines of the global meeting, President Buhari will attend a meeting to review progress made in addressing the priorities of Small Islands Developing States through the implementation of the Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway.

Not only that, Nigeria will at the 74th Session of the U N General Assembly, vie for some seats and positions in some international organizations and committees including the International Maritime Organizations, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, the International Civil Aviation Council and the Committee against Torture.

Nigeria’s leadership of the United Nations General Assembly gives the country high visibility and greater influence to push its important agenda such as the fight against corrguption, countering violent extremism and terrorism, the treatment of migrants as well as the recharging of Lake Chad.