Full Speech Of President Buhari At 77th UN General Assembly, New York

101803

STATEMENT
BY
HIS EXCELLENCY
MUHAMMADU BUHARI
PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF
NIGERIA
AT THE
{GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 77TH SESSION OF
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY}
{NEW YORK, USA}
21ST SEPTEMBER, 2022

Protocols:

Mr. President,

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.

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

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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
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.

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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
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.

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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
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,

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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.

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.

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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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