President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, September 25, addressed the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. The president in New York unfolded Nigeria’s positions on various international matters before the global audience.
In this piece, Legit.ng compares what the president's speech at the United Nations 72nd session in 2017 with his speech at the 73rd session in 2018.
Global conflicts/Terrorism and the need for adequate security
In the 2018 speech, President Buhari spoke at length on the global conflicts and threats to world peace, mentioning the “continuing plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, the protracted Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the wars in Yemen, and Syria, and the fight against international and local terrorism such as Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab...”
He particularly 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.
Buhari also acknowledged the commitment to peace shown by President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-Un by initiating a historic summit.
In the 2017 speech, President Buhari also talked about the global conflicts, commending the UN’s role in helping to settle thousands of innocent civilians caught in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
A notable difference is that in the 2018 speech, President Buhari talked about the farmers/herdsmen conflict that is rampant in some parts of Nigeria.
Another topical issue President Buhari’s 2018 speech is irregular migration which he said is a consequence of the current conflicts around the world mainly affecting people from the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Africa.
He said irregular migration entails huge avoidable loss of human lives, puts strains on services in host countries and communities, and fuels anti- immigrant and racist sentiments in Europe.
He listed conflicts alone, effects of climate change and lack of opportunities at home as major reasons for migration.
President Buhari, in his 2017 UN speech, did not talk about migration.
In the 2018 UN speech, President Buhari also addressed the issue of corruption at the UN 73rd session. He charged all the UN member countries to be united in the fight against corruption.
The president also talked about corruption in the 2017 speech especially focusing on how his administration is strengthening state institutions are being strengthened to promote accountability, and to combat corruption and asset recovery.
President Buhari also mentioned, in the 2018 speech, the challenges of climate particularly from Nigeria’s experience, saying that it is partly responsible for irregular migration.
“Climate Change remains one of the greatest challenges of our time. Very close to us at home, it is our lot in Nigeria, together with our neighbours around the Chad Basin, to live with the Climate change consequences of a drastically shrunk Lake Chad and the parching up of otherwise fertile arable lands,” he said.
In the 2017 speech, he briefly made reference to migration issue, particularly mentioning the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Significance of United Nations and a call for reformed Security Council
In the 2018 speech, President Buhari noted that the UN remains the organisation that has the required system to fight the global challenges the world is facing. He, however, called for a reformed Security Council with expanded membership in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.
The 2017 speech did not address the above issue.
Nigeria’s important role in the UN
President Buhari, while calling for a reformed Security Council, highlighted the significant roles Nigeria has played in the organisation since it joined in 1960.
“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,” the president said.
He also briefly mentioned this in the 2017 speech.
Democracy and good governance
In the 2017 speech, President Buhari spoke about democracy and the importance of free and fair elections, and enthronement of the rule of law.
“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.
The 2018 speech did not focus on the above issue.
President Buhari's full speech at the 73rd session of United Nations General Assembly delivered on Tuesday, September 25 can be read here.
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