President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in New York addressed world leaders at the ongoing 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, calling for global action on corruption, security and UN reforms.
Buhari, who was the 14th speaker, while presenting the Nigeria’s National Statement to world leaders during the first day of the General Debate, also unfolded Nigeria’s positions on international matters before the global audience.
He painted a distressing picture of the Lake Chad, which was a major source of livelihood to more than 45 million inhabitants of the region.
He said the shrinking of the lake meant loss of livelihoods as people were now rendered poor and vulnerable to the activities of extremists and terrorist groups.
“The instability thus caused in the sub-region intensified internal displacements leading, among other consequences, to intense economic competition especially between farmers and herdsmen,” he said.
Buhari reiterated Nigeria’s call for a rededicated international engagement to accelerate the recovery efforts in the Lake Chad Basin to address the root causes of the conflicts in the region.
“What is required is continuous and robust UN cooperation with national Governments and sub-regional and regional organisations such as the Lake Chad Basin Commission, the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union, to enhance capacity in conflict prevention, conflict management and peace building.”
He expressed heartfelt appreciation to the UN, Germany, Norway, U.S., Sweden, UK, France and a host of other development partners for their laudable support in assisting Nigeria to address both the humanitarian challenges and the on-going stabilisation drive in the Lake Chad Basin region.
On corruption, the Nigerian leader called for measures by the international community to stem illicit flow of funds within countries and across national boundaries.
According to him, corruption has a huge negative impact on the stability, peace, and economic prospects of millions in developing countries.
“Corruption significantly deprives national Governments of resources to provide meaningful livelihoods to their populations who are predominantly youths, thus giving rise to more irregular migration,” Buhari said.
He noted that the fight against corruption was a collective assignment involving all stakeholders adding, “it is in our collective interest to cooperate in tracking illicit financial flows, investigate and prosecute corrupt individuals and entities and repatriate such funds to their countries of origin”.
“Fighting corruption or resolving international conflicts, crises and wars; defeating terrorism and piracy; curbing arms trafficking and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which fuel these conflicts, particularly in Africa.
“Stemming irregular migration by addressing its root causes; and the many other global challenges we are faced with today can only be effectively addressed through multilateral cooperation and concerted action.
“The only global institutional framework we have to address these challenges is the United Nations System,” Buhari stressed.
He called for the strengthening of the UN and making it more effective by speeding up the pace of progress towards its reform, including that of its principal organ, the Security Council.
“The reconstitution of the Council to make it more equitable and more representative of our global community is both a political and moral imperative.
“We believe that a reformed Security Council with expanded membership in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, is in accord with prevailing international consensus and it is in our collective interest to do so.
According to him, it is high time to stop skirting round the issue and establish achievable benchmarks and time frames for these reforms.
“I assure you all that in this advocacy, I am only reflecting Nigeria’s deep and abiding commitment to our Organisation and its founding principles and goals.
“From the date we joined in 1960, we have contributed our quota to the fulfilment of the mandate of the UN.
“We have been active participants in many Security Council and African Union authorised Peace Keeping operations around the world, beginning with the Democratic Republic of Congo operations in 1960.
“Furthermore, Nigeria has always mobilised the required human and material resources to achieve set United Nations goals, including the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“We are resolute in complementing the efforts and examples of the United Nations to promote gender equality and youth empowerment as necessary pillars for sustainable development,” Buhari said.
The Nigerian leader expressed regrets about some lingering threats to peace and security around the world, noting that in some cases, matters got worse.
“The terrorist insurgencies we face, particularly in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, are partly fuelled by local factors and dynamics, but now increasingly by the international Jihadi Movement, runaway fighters from Iraq and Syria and arms from the disintegration of Libya”.
He called on the international community to strengthen its resolve to combat ethnic and religious cleansing everywhere.
He expressed Nigeria’s support for the UN’s effort in ensuring that the Rohingya refugees are allowed to return to their homes in Myanmar with security, protection, and guarantee of citizenship.
The Nigerian leader commended the efforts of the leaders of the United States, North Korea and South Korea, “to realise our shared goal of a nuclear free Korean Peninsula.”
He also acknowledged the commitment to peace shown by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-Un by initiating a historic Summit, urging both leaders to continue with the positive engagement.
Buhari called on the Israelis and the Palestinians to make the necessary compromises in the interest of justice, peace and security, in line with numerous UN resolutions and applicable international laws.
He warned that “unilateral, arbitrary and insensitive actions only prolong the conflict and undermine world peace and security,” attributing the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza to the “appalling result of unrestrained use of power.”
Buhari, therefore, urged both parties to re-engage in dialogue on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Quartet Roadmap and the Arab Peace Initiative, among others.
He also reaffirmed Nigeria’s “unwavering support for a just two-state solution, negotiated without intimidation and with Israel and Palestine existing side-by-side in peace and security”.