Buhari seeks UN assistance on insecurity in North East
... as political intrigues scuttle Nigeria’s quest for Security Council seat
President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday said the United Nations support would greatly assist Nigeria in reversing the negative effect of insecurity in the North East.
President Buhari stated this when he played host to visiting President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Maria Espinosa Garces, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
President Buhari, who described the condition of internally displaced persons ((IDPs) in the country as pathetic, said Nigeria had at least a million children who neither know their parents, nor where they come from, a condition imposed on them by the Boko Haram insurgents.
He said the damage to infrastructure, particularly in the North East, had been horrendous, 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.”
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 were 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 endeavour, 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 UN system, saying the country was well respected in the global body.
“Nigeria is a major troops’ contributor to peace keeping operations, and a major part of the human rights architecture,” 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.
Speaking further on the humanitarian needs in the Lake Chad area, the outgoing UNGA President said, “We are deploying all our 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.
“I have specific numbers on how much, specific coverage and people but everything we do is in strict and close coordination with the governments of the Lake Chad Basin.
“As you know, the UN has signed five-year UN cooperation framework with Nigeria whereby $4.5 million that will channelled according to the Nigerian government’s priorities.”
On Nigeria’s quest for a UN Permanent Seat at the Security Council, Espinosa identified the absence of political will amongst member nations to expand the United Nations Security Council as a major factor that has continued to scuttle Nigeria’s ambition to get a Permanent seat at the UN Security Council, twenty five years after commencement of reforms began.
Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya are leading African countries jostling for the only seat reserved for the continent
But Espinosa while responding to questions over the slow progress of the UN reform which commenced about twenty five years ago, listed efforts to get member nations to agree on expansion of the UN Security Council, adding, “The absence of political will to agree on such reforms has continued to scuttle the program.”
The UNGA President, who acknowledged Nigeria’s strong roles in the UN system, said the quest for Permanent Seat at the UN Security Council had been one of the most “complex divisive and contentious negotiations processes at the UN.”
The UN currently has five permanent members in line with its 1945 Charter. These include the United States of America, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom.
“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 a resolution to start the negotiations and with a 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 out come of the reform is going to depend very much on the political will of member states themselves.
“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 organisation.”