President Muhammadu Buhari
•Seeks debt cancellation for countries facing severe challenges
•Says Nigeria ‘ll not continually seek aid
•Renews call for equitable COVID-19 vaccines distribution
•Decries scant representation at Security Council
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in New York, United States of America, USA, told world leaders to reject coup de tat especially in West Africa.
President Buhari decried the recent trend of “unconstitutional takeover of power,” which, he said, must not be tolerated by the international community.
The President also called for non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system that would stimulate economic growth and development.
He urged the international community not only to deal with the symptoms of conflict but also the immediate causes that fuel conflicts in the first place.
Delivering his speech at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, President Buhari warned that democratic gains of the past decades in West Africa “are now being eroded” due to these negative trends.
He affirmed Nigeria’s support to efforts by ECOWAS, AU and the UN to address the growing challenge.
According to him, “As leaders of our individual Member-States we need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits. This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our sub-region.
“These include poor and undemocratic governance, human rights abuses, poverty, ignorance, injustice and inequalities.
“There are no easy solutions to these conditions. They require long term investments and more effective international cooperation. In this connection, my delegation underscores the importance of promoting peaceful, unfettered, and inclusive participation of states in global actions towards conflict prevention.
“This will facilitate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063.”
The President also addressed issues bordering on international agenda of interest to Nigeria, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Arms Trade Treaty, climate change, terrorism, anti-corruption, debt suspension, international trade, UN Security Council Reform, Palestinian Question, racial discrimination, among others.
On the issue of debt in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian leader urged G20 countries to extend its debt suspension initiatives to all developing countries, Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States facing fiscal and liquidity challenges.
The President also called for outright debt cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges:
He said, “Developing countries have been faced with unsustainable debt burdens even before the pandemic
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of new wave of deepening debt, where vital public financial resources are allocated to external debt servicing and repayments at the expense of domestic health and financing for critical developmental needs.
“I must commend the current initiatives by the international financial institutions and the G20 aimed at significantly mitigating the economic situation of the indebted countries and urge for more efforts in this regard.
“Therefore, there is an urgent need to consider expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to include all Developing, Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States facing fiscal and liquidity challenges.
“In addition, a review of the eligibility criteria for debt suspension, including outright cancellation, is needed for countries facing the most severe challenges.”
President Buhari reiterated his advocacy for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, outlining steps Nigeria has taken to achieve “moderate success” in containing the virus and halt its deadly onslaught in the country.
He said, “Nigeria remains grateful for the assistance received from our partners and friends all over the world.
“Vaccination is the key to our safe emergence from the pandemic.
“We fully support the COVAX initiative from which we have benefitted. We also thank the United States of America, Turkey, India, China, European Union, and others for the vaccines provided.
“Despite the acknowledgement however, I would like to reiterate my call for a fairer and more equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries so that, together, we can fight and contain the pandemic.
Speaking on Nigeria’s intervention to halt the pandemic, the President said:
“At the outset, we recognised detection and contact tracing to be important tools in combating the virus.
On the fight against terrorism, the President told the UN General Assembly that the Nigerian Security Forces have recorded considerable success.
“As a result of the renewed vigour of Nigeria’s military, many terrorist fighters are voluntarily surrendering to our security forces,” he said.
The President noted that while terrorism continues to dominate security discourse worldwide, in Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorists group, though fragmented by internal strife and weakened by the country’s defence forces, is still active and preying on soft targets.
“Nigeria will continue to work closely with UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and entities with a view to bringing this scourge to an end,” he said, adding that the country would spare no effort in addressing the challenges of terrorism posed by the activities of Boko Haram in North-East Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, as well as banditry in the North-West and North-Central Nigeria.
UN Security council representation
The Nigerian leader also renewed the call for the reforms of the UN Security Council, stressing that intergovernmental negotiations on the issue was taking too long.
“No reform of the United Nations system is more urgent than that of the Security Council. Stakeholders around the world are asking how such power could be concentrated, with scant representation.
“The intergovernmental negotiations have taken too long, some 15 years.
“We must avoid going in circles. Consensus has been achieved in some of the elements of this reform, especially that of the representation of Africa on the basis of the Elzuwini consensus and the Sirte Declaration.
On the Palestinian question, the President encouraged Israel and Palestine to re-engage in dialogue based on relevant UN resolutions and Initiatives.
“The two-state solution has the support of the international community and is widely acknowledged as the path to lasting peace,” he said.