As Buhari solicits UN support in rehabilitation of IDPs

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

ABUJA – Nigeria’s quest to be a member of the United Nations Security Council, may tarry for a while following the inability of the members of the UN to arrive at a consensus on the matter.

This was revealed yesterday by the President of the UN General Assembly, Fernanda Maria Espinosa Garcés, at a joint briefing with Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The UN General Assembly President stated that about twenty-five years after the mandate to reform the United Nations Security Council was given, world leaders lack the political will to carry through the initiative.

Countries around the world including Nigeria have been agitating for the expansion of the UN Security Council from its present five permanent members with veto powers to accommodate more countries.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had on September 2015 while delivering a keynote address at the launching of the Global Commission Report at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, stated that Nigeria deserves a permanent membership position in the Security Council of the United Nations, in view of the country’s contributions to international peacekeeping, size of its economy and population.

Stressing that Nigeria fully shared the views expressed in the report that the United Nation Security Council should be expanded, the Vice President said he supported the call for restraint on the use of the veto by the five permanent members of the council.

But responding to questions at a press conference after meeting with President Buhari at the presidential villa, the President of the UN General Assembly said there was still no consensus, stressing the need for members states to demonstrate the political will.

Asked about the prospects of expanding the council and Nigeria having the opportunity to have a shot at a permanent seat, she said: “Regarding the question of UN Security Council reform, I have to say very honestly that this is one of the most complex, divisive and contentious negotiations processes at the UN.

“As you know, the reform of the security council is under the responsibility of the UN General Assembly and I have appointed two co-chairs to lead the works of the inter-governmental negotiations that have been taking place for 10 years now.

“The process of reforms have started 25 years ago and the mandate to negotiate the reform came 10 years ago when I was the ambassador of Ecuador at the UN. And at the time, I thought we had the resolution to start the negotiations and with great naivety, I thought this is going to be a process that will perhaps be for two or three years.

“Ten years later, I have to say that there is no consensus, there are very different views and positions regarding the reform process.

“As we know, we need consensus to advance reforms. This is one of the issues where my work as the president is to lead to make sure that we agree on the fundamentals to ensure that the process is inclusive and transparent, that the outcome of the reform is going to depend very much on the political will of member states themselves.”

The UNGA President noted African countries’ divergent views on reforms, expressing her will to bring them to a point of convergence.

She added: “Then, of course, the African position is well known and there are also different groups that also have different positions. We are trying to bring them together and find a common denominator. And the common denominator is that the security council has to deliver more and better because they have the main responsibility to deliver on peace and security agenda of the organization.”

Also speaking on the humanitarian needs in the Lake Chad area, she affirmed that it was the responsibility of the UN, saying that the world body was deploying all its capacities “not only our office of humanitarian affairs but all our development apparatus of the UN, working in all the Chad Basin, supporting governments, countries and the leader to improve humanitarian aid according to people’s needs in the regions and micro-regions.”

“As you know, the UN has signed five-year UN cooperation framework with Nigeria whereby $4.5 million that will be channeled according to the Nigerian government’s priorities,”’ she stated.

Meanwhile, President Buhari has called on the UN to come to the aid of the country in the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs and destroyed infrastructure by the Boko Haram terrorists.

President Buhari told the visiting President of the 73rd Session of the UNGA that the assistance of UN and the international community will be invaluable in reversing the devastation visited on Nigeria by the Boko Haram insurgency.

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The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina said, “The condition of internally displaced persons ((IDPs) in the country is pathetic. We have at least a million children who neither know their parents nor where they come from,” the President told Ms. Garces during an audience at State House, Abuja.

He added that damage to infrastructure, particularly in the North-east, has been horrendous: “Bridges have been blown up, schools, hospitals, churches, mosques, and other buildings have been destroyed. All these will be rehabilitated, and every form of international help is welcome.”

On the recharge of Lake Chad through inter-basin water transfer from Congo River, President Buhari said climate change was quite real to the region, noting that no fewer than 30 million people are negatively affected by the shrinking lake, with at least half of them being Nigerians.

He stressed the role the international community needed to play in the endeavor, since recharging the lake was beyond the financial power of the affected countries.

The UNGA President commended Nigeria for being a key part of the United Nations system, saying the country was well respected in the global body.

“Nigeria is a major troops’ contributor to peacekeeping operations, and a major part of the human rights architecture,” Ms. Garces said.

She commended President Buhari’s leadership of ECOWAS, and of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, pledging to call the attention of the international community to the “hurting effects” of the Lake Chad problem, and other issues raised by the Nigerian leader.

The UNGA President also lauded Nigeria for rehabilitating the UN building in Abuja, which was destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents during an attack in August 2011.

Nigeria was elected a non-permanent member of the Security Council on October 17, 2013, and has also taken its turn to serve on the one-month rotational presidency of the Council.

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