President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the international community of Nigeria’s firm and unshaken commitment to democracy in the country and the African continent.
Delivering his speech during the General Debate of the 72nd Session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 72) in New York, Tuesday, the President said this commitment to democratic ideals became profound with Nigeria leading ECOWAS’ effort in the restoration of democratic governance in The Gambia and Cote D’Ivoire.
“Our faith in democracy remains firm and unshaken. Our regional organisation ECOWAS came together to uphold democratic principles in The Gambia – as we had done previously in Cote D’Ivoire,” he said.
According to President Buhari, “The frontiers of good governance, democracy including holding free and fair elections, and enthronement of the rule of law are expanding everywhere, especially in Africa.”
He also noted that “Through our individual national efforts, state institutions are being strengthened to promote accountability, and to combat corruption and asset recovery,” stressing that “These can only be achieved through the international community cooperating and providing critical assistance and material support.”
The President commended the UN, Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey for assisting victims of conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the international community for its exemplary show of solidarity in assisting “the countries and communities in the Sahel and the Lake Chad regions to contain the threats posed by Al Qaida and Boko Haram. We thank the Security Council for visiting the countries of the Lake Chad Basin to assess the security situation and humanitarian needs, and for pledging assistance to rebuild lives and livelihoods.”
He said Nigeria is currently “providing relief and humanitarian assistance to millions in internally displaced camps and those afflicted by terrorism, drought, floods and other natural disasters.”
President Buhari called for the sustenance of international collaborative efforts in fighting international terrorism.
“We must collectively devise strategies and mobilise the required responses to stop fleeing ISIS fighters from mutating and infiltrating into the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, where there are insufficient resources and response capacity is weak,” he said.
According to him, “This will require strong UN cooperation with regional organisations, such as the African Union, in conflict prevention and management. The UN should continue to take primary leadership of the maintenance of international peace and security by providing, in a predictable and sustainable manner, adequate funding and other enablers to regional initiatives and peacekeeping operations authorized by the Security Council.”
The Nigerian leader, who described the choice of theme for UNGA 72: Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet” as timely and appropriate, drew global attention to issues and crises which impact negatively on the people, the most vulnerable being children and women, and urged concerted international solutions.
“The international community cannot remain silent and not condemn the horrendous suffering caused by what, from all indications is a state-backed programme of brutal depopulation of the Rohingya inhabited areas in Myanmar on the bases of ethnicity and religion. We fully endorse the call by the Secretary-General on the Government of Myanmar to order a halt to the ongoing ethnic cleansing and ensure the safe return of the displaced Rohingya to their homes in safety and dignity,” he said.
President Buhari also stated Nigeria’s position on the current threat to global peace and security posed by North Korea’s nuclear programme.
According to him, “The most pressing threat to international peace and security today is the accelerated nuclear weapons development programme by North Korea. Since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, we have never come so close to the threat of nuclear war as we have now.
“All necessary pressure and diplomatic efforts must be brought to bear on North Korea to accept peaceful resolution of the crisis. As Hiroshima and Nagasaki painfully remind us, if we fail, the catastrophic and devastating human loss and environmental degradation cannot be imagined.
“Nigeria proposes a strong UN delegation to urgently engage the North Korean Leader. The delegation, led by the Security Council, should include members from all the regions.”
The President adds that “The crisis in the Korean peninsula underscores the urgency for all member states, guided by the spirit of enthroning a safer and more peaceful world, to ratify without delay the Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, which will be open for signature here tomorrow.”
He also underscored Nigeria’s readiness to cooperate in addressing the growing transnational crimes such as forced labour, modern day slavery, human trafficking and cybercrime.
He cautioned that: “New conflicts should not make us lose focus on ongoing unresolved old conflicts. For example, several UN Security Council Resolutions from 1967 on the Middle East crisis remain unimplemented. Meanwhile, the suffering of the Palestinian people and the blockade of Gaza continue.”