The President of the 73th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, has proposed a multidimensional and holistic approach to end security challenges bedevilling Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.
Garces, who arrived in Nigeria on Monday, to discuss issues of Nigeria’s transition as the President of the 73th session of the UNGA, made the call after being received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Geoffrey Onyeama.
Fielding questions from Nigerian journalists on growing spate of insecurity in the northern part of Nigeria and how the United Nations has been assisting the country, Garces, who said she would hand over to a Nigerian, Prof. Tijani Bande, in June, said: “Regarding the question on Nigeria, West Africa and the security challenges, I think that the regional response is extremely important. This Multinational Joint Task Force, I think, has great role to play but it is only a part of the equation.
Perhaps, more important part of the equation is to look at the challenges in the Lake Chad areas as multidimensional and from a holistic approach.
These are not fancy words. What I mean here is that the security efforts this joint task force can work together with the support of the UN to be accompanied by a very strong affirmative action in terms of development, in term of inclusion and looking at the excellent initiatives of this country to resettle and accommodate the internally displaced people; how to address the refugee crises; how to improve quality of education; access to health services I think it’s one single package.”
Noting that this was her second visit to Africa, since becoming President of the General Assembly, Espinosa stressed that her visit to Nigeria was to further strengthen the ties between Nigeria and the UN, and to raise awareness on the importance of multilateralism with the UN at its centre.
According to her, multilateralism is the only way to tackle, address and solve the global challenges that are impacting lives and livelihood across the world, including climate change.
She added, “In this very region the impact manifested in the decline of Lake Chad Basin and its cascading effects on the environment, on the insecurity and violence, displacement and refugees are all interlinked.
Responding, Onyeama, who commended her for various achievements as the president of the global institution, appealed to her to help in finding solution to a lot of challenges Africa is facing.
According to him, “It is a privilege that you are just coming from Chad and you have seen the climate induced shrinkage of Lake Chad. For us, it is an existential issue because it is a lake that almost 30 million people depend on for their livelihood.
We have seen it shrink by 90 per cent over the years’ this has created very severe challenge for the people of that sub-region and indeed for our country. We are looking to have the support of the UN and your support in particular to address this challenge.
One of the mechanisms we have identified is to recharge the lake. It is going to be capital intensive efforts. Something in the area of 40 to 50 billion dollars estimated, and clearly, we are going to leverage on the international community because this is a huge resources and we look for your support.
Meanwhile President Muhammadu Buhari at the closed-door meeting with the UN chief sought the assistance of the world body as well as the international community for the reversal of the devastation of certain parts of Nigeria by Boko Haram insurgency.
A statement by the president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president told the visiting President of the 73rd Session of UNGA that the condition of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country was pathetic and required their interventions.
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 was quoted, adding: “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.
According to the statement, the president also canvassed support for the recharge of Lake Chad through inter-basin water transfer from Congo River, saying climate change was quite real to the region and noted that no fewer than 30 million people were negatively affected by the shrinking lake, with at least half of them being Nigerians.
Adesina added that Buhari emphasised the role that the international community needed to play in the endeavour, noting that recharging the lake was beyond the financial capacity of the affected countries.
The statement also said the UNGA president commended Nigeria for being a key part of the UN system, describing Nigeria as a well respected country in the global body.
Nigeria is a major troops’ contributor to peace keeping operations, and a major part of the human rights architecture,” Adesina quoted Garces, adding that the UNGA boss commended the president’s headship of ECOWAS, and 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,” Adesina added.
UN Chiefs Says Nigeria’s Search for Permanent Security Council Seat Divisive.
Also speaking at the State House in Abuja, Garces said Nigeria’s search for a permanent seat in the United Nations (UN) Security Council has remained a pipe dream as there is no political will among member states to accommodate such request.
Answering questions from journalists after a meeting with Buhari, Garces said the pursuit had been one of the most complex, divisive and contentious issues before the global body so far.
Garces, who said whereas the reform process, which would have accelerated Nigeria’s quest for the seat started two and half decades ago, inter-governmental negotiations over the matter formally began 10 years ago, pointing out that despite many years of pursuit, member states have failed to reach a consensus to push the matter through.
According to her, achieving such a consensus is a necessity to realising the dream, explaining that even though her office has so far been concerned about the successful and transparent outcome of the process, there will continue to be a stalemate unless member states muster the will to achieve it.
She said there had been divergent views on the matter, adding that what UNGA is currently doing is to harmonise such views with a view to finding a common ground, which she said was aimed at making.
Five Persons Killed as Suspected Herdsmen Raid Taraba Villages
The five current permanent members of the UN Security Council, which Nigeria seeks to join, are United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China.
Also answering a question on the plan of the UN towards addressing the humanitarian crises plaguing the Lake Chad region, Garces said the organisation had signed a $4.5 million cooperation framework with Nigeria.
She also disclosed that the UN was deploying energy towards supporting countries around the Lake Chad basin with a view to improving the humanitarian support to the region.
In a related development, the federal government has expressed its readiness to address the security challenges facing the nation headlong as the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, assured yesterday that Nigeria Police is up to the task.
Adamu, who spoke after a two and half hour close-door meeting with the Senate, stated that the Police are now more alive to their responsibility in securing lives and property.
The IG, who alluded to the fact that Nigerian Police is currently understaffed, however, said government has approved the recruitment of 10,000 personnel this year.
His words: “Policing is dynamic. The number of personnel we have can never be enough. But the government is trying to recruit every year. This year, we have 10,000 to recruit. We will meet up with the required number.”
He said the Senate saw reason with his presentation on the need to make the country more secured “as the Senate has appreciated what we have presented and they are willing to enhance the strategy. The Senate has agreed to support all our activities to make the country secure”.
Adamu described as false the report that federal government recently paid N100 billion to herdsmen to stop killings across the country.
According to him, “the information you got about giving N100 billion to herdsmen to stop killing is from the social media. There was no discussion like that. The source of that information is not yet known. It is somebody’s imagination”.
On the reported molestation of women by some policemen in Abuja, the IG assured that police authorities will set up a panel to investigate the matter “and any policeman found wanting will face the wrath of the law.”
He further stated that “the raiding of nightclubs in Abuja was done by FCT task force. They came out to do their job and they reached out to police to support them and we did that. Women were arrested and convicted. It means that they committed an offense”.
On his part, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, assured of the readiness of the Senate to assist the Police in tackling the security issues facing the nation.
Saraki, who summarised what transpired at the close-door meeting between the Senate and IG upon resumption of plenary yesterday, emphasised that the Senate promised and expressed commitment to assist in areas of funding.
He said: “The Senate is ready at any time to give assistance to provide adequate funding that is required in order to make the Police combat the necessary threats to our security.”
I Won’t Let Nigerians Down, Says Buhari
In the meantime, the president has promised once again not to let Nigerians down, saying he is conscious of the weight of responsibility on his shoulders.
Buhari who made the remarks at the daily Tafsir (Quranic interpretations) marking the month of Ramadan fast at the State House Mosque, promised to provide effective and result-oriented leadership, which safeguards and ensures a better life for citizens.
In a statement, presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said Buhari stated that the reality of his office weighed heavily on his mind at all times, and would keep working to ensure there is improved life for every Nigerian.
The statement added that the president said he knew what to do, and would not fail Nigerians.
It also said Buhari expressed gratitude to all Nigerians for the opportunity to serve a second term in office, promising that their expectations by giving him the mandate would be met.
“The expectations of Nigerians will be met. I will not let them down. I will continue to do my best,” he said.
Shehu also said the president reiterated his earlier message on the occasion of Ramadan to Nigerians that discipline should be the watchword of every citizen.
He also said Buhari advised citizens to use the fasting period to reflect on their lives and be more constructive and purposeful by promoting harmony, adding that the fasting period also provides good opportunity for charity.
Furthermore, Shehu said the Chief Imam of the Mosque, Sheik Abdulwaheed Sulaiman, in his remarks, thanked God for the last general election, calling for repentance and prayers on security challenges confronting the nation.
“Sheik Abdulwaheed Sulaiman gave thanks to Almighty Allah for allowing the general election to take place peacefully throughout the country.
“He called for repentance and prayers to avert the current security challenges confronting the nation. He said the security incidents are a test from God,” the statement added.