2023: Buhari Makes Big Vow To World Leaders On Elections, His Successor In New York

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…Assures Nigerians’ll Elect Leaders Of Their Choice At Polls

As Nigerians prepare to elect new President as well as other leaders at the federal and state levels in 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari has restated his commitment towards delivering a free, fair and credible electioneering process that will ensure citizens are given the sole responsibility of electing who will lead them for the next four years.

Buhari, who addressed world leaders at the second day of the General Debate of the 77th session of the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Wednesday said his administration will not in any way interfere in the 2023 general elections.

During his address, the President assured that Nigerians will be given unhindered opportunity to elect their new leaders in 2023. According to him, the goal of his administration is to entrench a democratic process that allows for free, fair and transparent and credible elections.

He added that the forthcoming 2023 general elections in the country is going to be a testament that Nigeria is a democratic country.

“It has been my experience that a democratic culture provides a Government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive change. As President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair and transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice,” Buhari said at the general debate of the 77th session of UNGA.

Speaking further, Buhari also highlighted how Nigeria has helped its neighbouring countries to stabilize and strengthen their democracies.

According to him, Nigeria’s role has helped Gambia to guarantee its first democratic transition since independence; “in Guinea-Bissau we stood by the democratically elected Government when it faced mutiny. And in the Republic of Chad, following the tragic death of its President, the late Idris Deby Itno in the battle field, we joined forces with its other neighbours and international partners to stabilize the country and encourage the peaceful transition to democracy, a process which is ongoing.”

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Read the full speech below;

NIGERIA

AT THE

{GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 77TH SESSION OF

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY}

{NEW YORK, USA}

21ST SEPTEMBER, 2022

On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I congratulate you on

your well-deserved election as President of the 77th Session of this August

Assembly. I assure you of the full support and cooperation of the Nigerian

delegation during your tenure.

2. I commend your predecessor, H.E Abdullah Shahid for the many remarkable

achievements of the General Assembly under his leadership during these

challenging times.

3. May I also congratulate the Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres on his

ceaseless and untiring efforts to promote peace, security and development, very

much in line with his exalted role.

Mr. President,

4. The first time I could have addressed this August Assembly was in 1984,

when I was the Military Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thirty

one years later, I had the great privilege to personally address the Assembly in

2015, as the democratically elected President of my country. As I approach the

end of my second and final four-year term, I am reminded of how much has

changed in Nigeria, in Africa, and in the world, and yet, how some challenges

remain.

5. We are now more severely tested by these enduring and new global

challenges, paramount among which are conflicts increasingly being driven by

non-state actors, proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, terrorism, violent

extremism, malignant use of technology, climate change, irregular migration, and

disparities in opportunities for improved standards of living.

6. Despite the challenging international environment, the United Nations has

proved that it can be strong when the will of its members is harnessed for positive

collective action. The guiding principles of this extraordinary institution is the

promotion of peace and security, development and human rights. Latest in a chain

of events challenging these principles is the Ukraine conflict which has already

created strains that are perhaps unprecedented for a generation.

7. Such a conflict will have adverse consequences for us all, hindering our

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capacity to work together to resolve conflicts elsewhere, especially in Africa, the

Middle-East and Asia. Indeed, the ongoing war in Ukraine is making it more difficult

to tackle the perennial issues that feature each year in the deliberations of this

Assembly, such as nuclear disarmament, the right of the Rohingya refugees to

return to their homes in Myanmar, and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for

statehood and reduction of inequalities within and amongst nations.

8. The danger of escalation of the war in Ukraine further justifies Nigeria’s

resolute calls for a nuclear-free world and a universal Arms Trade Treaty, which

are also necessary measures to prevent global human disasters. In this regards

we must find quick means to reach consensus on the Nuclear non-proliferation

Treaty with related commitments by nuclear weapon states.

9. I remain firmly convinced that the challenges that have come so sharply into

focus in recent years and months emphasize the call by Nigeria and many other

Member-States for the reform of the Security Council and other UN Agencies. We

need more effective and representative structures to meet today’s demands that

have since outgrown a system designed for the very different world that prevailed

at its foundation in 1945. CHANGE IS LONG OVERDUE.

10. This is the first meeting we are having here in New York without the

restrictions that characterised the last three years. The COVID-19 pandemic

ripped across National borders like a toxic whirlwind, leaving in its wake a legacy

of pain and loss.

11. Happily, we also witnessed an incredible level of innovation and creativity

from those who devised treatments and vaccines. These laudable achievements

were underpinned by partnerships and international cooperation. We have also

seen the bravery, care, and endurance of health professionals at every corner of

the globe.

12. I am happy to note that in Nigeria, our healthcare agencies were able to form

effective local management and engaged international partnerships with

multinational initiatives like COVAX and private groups like the Bill and Melinda

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Gates Foundation. These efforts helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic and

we were mercifully spared the images of overwhelmed hospitals, overworked

healthcare personnel and high mortality which sadly we saw elsewhere.

13. With COVID-19, we saw very clearly how states tried to meet the challenge

of a threat that could not be contained within national borders. The results were

mixed; but at its best, cooperation among stakeholders was outstanding. It

facilitated solutions that saved countless lives and eased the huge burden of

human suffering.

14. That same theme of unilateralism and the promotion of national interest

competing with the common cause in the face of an existential threat has been our

recurring experience in recent times. In every address I have delivered to this

august Assembly, I have dwelt on the issue of climate change, especially as it fuels

conflicts and complicates food security.

15. Climate change reduces opportunity and prosperity which, in Africa, Latin

America and some parts of Asia also contribute to transnational organized crimes.

16. As part of Nigeria’s efforts at achieving our Global Net-zero aspiration, the

current Administration last year adopted a National Climate Change Strategy that

aims to deliver climate change mitigation in a sustainable manner.

17. The measures we took at the national level also require climate justice. Africa

and other developing nations produce only a small proportion of greenhouse gas

emissions, compared to industrial economies. Yet, we are the hardest hit by the

consequences of climate change as we see in the sustained droughts in Somalia

and floods of unprecedented severity in Pakistan.

18. These and other climate-related occurrences are now sadly becoming widely

commonplace in the developing world. We are, in effect, literally paying the price

for policies that others pursue. This needs to change.

19. At the Cop 26 in Glasgow last year, I did say that Nigeria was not asking for

permission to make the same mistakes that others have made in creating the

climate emergency.

20. Fortunately, we now know what we can do to mitigate the effects of the

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climate crisis and the related energy challenge. As a first step, we must all commit

to releasing the financing and the technology to create a stable and affordable

framework for energy transition.

21. Development Financial Institutions must prioritise de-risking energy projects

to improve access of renewable projects to credit facilities. There should be no

countries “left behind” in this equation.

22. Rocketing energy costs worldwide are, in part, the product of conflict and

supply disruptions to Europe and the Americas. Yet, we are all paying the price. It

is, therefore, our expectation that this UNGA 77 and the upcoming COP 27 will

help galvanise the political will required to drive action towards the fulfilment of the

various existing climate change initiatives.

23. Another feature of the last decade has been the gowing partnership between

states and the increasingly influential non-state actors. There was a time when the

most important event at this Assembly was the speech by the world’s most

powerful leaders. Now a Tweet or Instagram post by an influencer on social or

environmental issues may have greater impact.

24. Technology offers us nearly limitless opportunities and sometimes runs

ahead of the imagination of regulators and legislators. At its best, social media

helps strengthen the foundations of our society and our common values. At its

worst, it is a corrosive digital version of the mob, bristling with intolerance and

division.

25. When I began my tenure as President in 2015, distinctions were drawn

between the experience of poorer countries and those apparently better able to

manage the avalanche of unfiltered information. Nigeria has had many unsavoury

experiences with hate speech and divisive disinformation. Increasingly, we also

see that many countries face the same challenge. Clearly, data also know no

borders.

26. In confronting these challenges, we must also come together to defend

freedom of speech, while upholding other values that we cherish. We must

continue to work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities

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to keep the most vulnerable from harm and help strengthen and enrich

communities.

27. Efforts to protect communities from the scourge of disinformation and

misinformation must also be matched with efforts to reduce inequalities and restore

hope to our poorer and most vulnerable of our communities as a means to stem

the many socio-economic conflict drivers with which we are faced.

28. In spite of our efforts, humanitarian crises will continue to ravage some of

our communities. Nigeria, therefore, implores our global partners to do more to

complement our endeavours.

29. Indeed, the multifaceted challenges facing most developing countries have

placed a debilitating chokehold on their fiscal space. This equally calls for the need

to address the burden of unsustainable external debt by a global commitment to

the expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to countries

facing fiscal and liquidity challenges as well as outright cancellation for countries

facing the most severe challenges.

Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

30. Democracy is an idea that crosses time and borders. Certainly, democracy

does have its limitations. The wheels of democracy turn slowly. It can demand

compromises that dilute decisions. Sometimes, it bends too much to special

interests that exercise influence, not always for the general good, in a manner

disproportionate to their numbers. But it has been my experience that a democratic

culture provides a Government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive

change.

31. In Nigeria, not only have we worked to strengthen our democracy, but we

have supported it and promoted the Rule of Law in our sub-region. In The Gambia,

we helped guarantee the first democratic transition since independence. In

Guinea-Bissau we stood by the democratically elected Government when it faced

mutiny. And in the Republic of Chad, following the tragic death of its President,

the late Idris Deby Itno in the battle field, we joined forces with its other neighbours

and international partners to stabilize the country and encourage the peaceful

transition to democracy, a process which is ongoing.

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32. We believe in the sanctity of constitutional term limits and we have

steadfastly adhered to it in Nigeria. We have seen the corrosive impact on values

when leaders elsewhere seek to change the rules to stay on in power. Indeed, we

now are preparing for general elections in Nigeria next February. At the 78th

UNGA, there will be a new face at this podium speaking for Nigeria.

33. Ours is a vast country strengthened by its diversity and its common values

of hard work, enduring faith and a sense of community. We have invested heavily

to strengthen our framework for free and fair elections. I thank our partners for all

the support that they have provided our election institutions.

34. As President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would

like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair and transparent and credible

elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.

35. The multiple challenges that face us are truly interconnected and urgent,

and your choice of this Session’s theme “A watershed moment: transformative

solutions to interlocking challenges” is apt. In keeping with our obligations as

Member States of this noble Organisation, we all must do our utmost to work with

you toward resolving them. In this regard, I reiterate my Delegation’s full

and resolute cooperation.

36. Let me convey my final reflection from this famous podium. We live in

extraordinary times with interdependent challenges but enormous opportunities.

The pace of change can seem bewildering, with sometimes a palpable and

unsettling sense of uncertainty about our future. But if my years in public service

have taught me anything, it is that we must keep faith with those values that

endure. These include, but are not limited to such values as justice, honour,

integrity, ceaseless endeavour, and partnership within and between nations.

37. Our strongest moments have always been when we remain true to the basic

principles of tolerance, community, and abiding commitment to peace and goodwill

towards all.

I thank you all.

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