Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honored to address you today as President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I am grateful to all Member States, for the confidence reposed in me, and I assure you of my commitment to upholding the ethics of the Office of the President of the General Assembly and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.
2. I thank former President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, for her excellent stewardship and tireless efforts in guiding our work during the 73rd session. I am also grateful to the Secretary-General for his leadership and commitment to the United Nations and its ideals.
3. In preparing to take office I had interacted with you all and I am grateful for the inputs you made to better frame and deepen our Vision Statement; which is owned by us all. It is now time for the implementation of our plans, and I will count on you for continued support.
4. Our Vision Statement focused on the implementation of the SDGs, particularly poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion. Accordingly, I will with your kind support and guidance pay close attention to the effective implementation of inherited mandates and the following priorities which I enunciated in my vision statement and at the Dialogue with Member States prior to my election:
i.Promotion of peace and security, particularly, conflict prevention. I will collaborate and coordinate with the Security Council, and the Secretariat to ensure that greater attention is paid to prevention rather than reaction to full blown conflict(s). I will also advocate for effective early detection and warning systems, as well as mediation, negotiation and peaceful settlement of ongoing conflicts. I will work to engender cooperation that will address drivers of conflicts such as poverty, exclusion and illiteracy.
ii.Increased partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly, poverty eradication, zero hunger and quality education. During this session I urge all member states to share their experiences on poverty eradication, especially, on how improved social protection systems can benefit vulnerable people, who are most affected by poverty. I request you all to focus on how best to strengthen the UN system to ensure that the most vulnerable escape the debilitating web of poverty and hunger, through sharing of knowledge on sustainable food production systems, resilient agricultural practices, availability of productive and affordable agricultural machinery and expansion of entrepreneurial capacity.
iii.Quality education is important and the fact that no nation can develop past its educational capacity, particularly that of its teachers, means we must work to ensure that Member States can partner on teacher training, access to free and quality primary and secondary education, among others. In some communities the need is construction of schools, while in many others, it is safety of students. We must device means to attend to the educational needs of all.
iv.Climate Change remains a key issue in development and we must tackle its causes and the repercussions. The recent emergencies in the Bahamas, Mozambique, and the Sahel region, among others, reminds us of the urgency of strengthening global we must find a way to strengthening global action to tackle climate change.
v.Accentuating inclusion, particularly starting from our Organization is also important. We must continue to ensure that the rights and empowerment of youths, women and the disabled around the world is prioritized.
5. Without doubt, we need to forge partnerships to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs and diligently work to find innovative ways of improving financing the Goals.
6. In one week, our Heads of State and Government will gather in this great Hall for the General Debate. In parallel, they will also devote attention to the Climate Action Summit, High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, Sustainable Development Goals Summit, the commemoration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, the International Day of the total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and the Mid-Term review of the SAMOA Pathway. During that week, they will deliberate on issues that are key to improving the lives of billions of people around the world and pronounce policies to accentuate development. The outcomes of the deliberations during the High-Level week will guide our work during the rest of the session. We must never forget that the world looks up to the United Nations as a veritable vehicle for attaining peace and security, sustainable development and universal human rights.
7. As the most representative deliberative body of the United Nations, the General Assembly needs to redouble its efforts to bridge gaps and act for the common good of the people we serve, particularly as we prepare for the celebration of the Seventy Fifth anniversary of the Organization, and in line with the far-sighted vision of its founders. We must build trust with one another, deepen partnerships and show empathy. This is the only way to resolve the many challenges that confront us. We will have to strive together, to deliver for all.
8. In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that the Office of the President of the General Assembly for its 74th Session will work closely with the President of the Security Council, President of ECOSOC and the Secretary-General, to better ensure success in achieving our shared goals. Though I am cognizant of the competing demands that will burden you during this period and beyond, I will continue to knock on your doors and count on your support to make the 74th session of the General Assembly a productive – even pleasant – one. This was what each, and every delegation had assured me they will do. I am thus most assured that we will achieve much during the session.
I THANK YOU
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has said that the Nigerian Government would use the Forum of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to seek global support fighting terrorism and increasing Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).
Onyeama made this known on Tuesday in Abuja during a Pre-UNGA briefing with newsmen stating the expectations of the Nigerian government during the high level summit from Sept. 17 to Sept. 30.
According to Onyeama, Nigeria would take advantage of its position as President of the 74th UN General Assembly to project the country and articulate priorities of the country, what t seeks to achieve and areas for global support.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari will be lead the Nigerian delegation which would include Members of his cabinet and some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure Nigeria have the best technical resources.
Onyeama listed other priority issues of the country to be discussed at the summit to include: issues of Peace and Security, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG ) which covers socio-economic, education, humanitarian issues regarding child’s right.
Other issues are: poverty eradication, illicit financial flows, recovery of stolen assets,
“More strategically as a country, it is an opportunity to project our country as an important member of the international community.
“And having the Presidency of the General Assembly is something that also gives us that higher visibility and great influence.
“We would also want to use that to push agenda of importance to us as a country, our fight against corruption, repatriation of foreign loots, engaging with other countries.
“In our quest to successfully deliver on SDG objectives that cover our social economic challenges, terrorism, and countering violent extremism.
“Is also something we would want to maintain at the highest levels of global priorities because it is our major challenges.
“Mr President has just come back from a summit of ECOWAS Heads of States on Peace and Security in the West Africa Sub-region so this is still a challenge that we are facing.
“And it is important to use that opportunity to keep the global community engaged and supportive of what we are doing, our fight.
“And also taking the opportunity to a greater United Nations for support in that fight against terrorism but also in the global conflicts taking place in Africa,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama said tha Nigeria has been very present in Peace Keeping interventions across the continent under the framework of the African Union.
He added that with such large troops from Nigeria it was important to have financial and other support from the UN peace keeping division.
The Minister said that President Buhari would also be having bilateral meetings with some Heads of States and engaging with different personalities like Bill Gates to discuss attracting FDI.
Onyeama explained that the Foreign revenue streams of the Country expected hence, the need to diversify to attract more Foreign Direct Investment into our country.
He said that Nigeria would also be soliciting support of the UN to recharge the Lake Chad which has shrunk by 90 per cent and has affected the source of livelihood of people living across the region.
Onyeama added that Nigeria will use the opportunity to canvass support for a number of Nigerians and the country itself vying for certain international position, engage with countries to try to get their support so that the nation can deliver on the positions.
“For instance, Nigeria is keen to be elected into a category of the International Maritime Organisation.
“We didn’t make it the last time round, so we are persisting this time and with the challenges that we have, maritime challenges, we feel that it is important that we be on the governing bodies for regulating maritime issues.
“We are also vying for a position on the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, we are vying for a seat under part two on the International Civil Aviation Organisation Council.
“We have a candidate that we are pushing to be on the Committee Against Torture, we also have a candidate that we are pushing for election to the United Nations Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
“So, we will be taking advantage of our presence there during the General Assembly to also lobby for these positions,” Onyeama said.
edited by Sadiya Hamza
Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, was among several Muslims that attended a special church service in New York on Monday evening.
The prayer service, hosted by the Church of the Holy Family, United Nations Parish, is an annual tradition of the UN to usher in every new session of the Assembly.
Monday’s edition came shortly after the President of the 73rd UNGA, Ms Maria Espinosa, handed over to Muhammad-Bande at the UN headquarters a few meters away.
Other Muslims at the service included presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu; former Chairman of INEC, Prof, Attahiru Jega, and officials of Nigerian missions to the UN and the United States.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres; the Deputy Secretary General, Ms Amina Mohammed, also a Muslim, and Espinosa, equally attended the service.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that speakers at the occasion underscored the significance of the composition of the gathering to religious tolerance and harmony.
In his address, Guterres said “our presence here sends an important message” at a time of “widespread polarisation and horrific violence targeting people solely for their (religious) identity”.
“We are recognising our human connections and reaffirming respect for each other’s religions, cultures and traditions”, he said.
Speaking later, Muhammad-Bande said the service was a reminder of the “place of faith and the role that empathy and love can in agreeing when we want to disagree”.
He urged all those present to recommit themselves to God and seek His intervention while also doing their best to address the challenges facing the world.
The Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Bishop Paul Hinder, spoke in similar vein in a sermon.
Hinder called on Muslims, Christians and adherents of other religions to unite and find a common cause in the fight against religious violence and extremism.
The service featured special prayers for the UN and its leaders, for lasting peace in war-torn regions and for a “globalisation of solidarity” against hunger hunger, poverty, disease, among others.
edited by Sadiya Hamza
Ms Maria Espinosa, the President of the 73rd UN General Assembly, on Monday handed over to Nigeria’s Muhammad-Bande, who will lead the 74th session of the assembly in the next one year.
The ceremony, held inside the General Assembly Hall of the UN headquarters in New York, marked the end of the 73rd session .
The 74th session will formally begin on Tuesday with the inauguration of Muhammad-Bande, who is the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN.
The handover ceremony was witnessed by top officials of the UN led by the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.
Nigerian officials, including a presidential team, comprising the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr Ahmed Abubakar, and presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, also witnessed the ceremony.
In a short address, Guterres lauded Espinosa for her strong leadership, describing her as a “champion for multilateralism”, who made the UN “relevant to all”.
“I commend her ambitious priorities for this session, which addressed crucial matters of international impact and concern.
“These include gender equality, migration and refugees, decent work for all, environmental protection, the rights of people with disabilities, promoting the voices of young people to advance peace and security, and revitalising the work of the United Nations.
“The commitment of Espinosa to the environment especially ending plastic pollution also stands out,” he said.
The UN chief said he looked forward to working with Muhammad-Bande to advance the organisation’s mission of building more peaceful and prosperous world.
Earlier in a valedictory press conference, Espinosa said she was satisfied with her achievements within her one-year tenure.
She said her practice of formally reporting back to member states every three months, was very useful, especially for the smaller missions that could cover all the agenda items.
Espinosa said during the 73rd Session, no fewer than 341 resolutions were adopted, making it the highest number in several years.
She reiterated her call on member states to “read the resolutions we have adopted again and let´s deliver and implement them using this norm-setting power of the General Assembly”, she said.
Espinosa is the woman to hold the office of the president of the General Assembly.
Edited by Chukwudi Ekezie
The Federal Government has dispatched a three-man team to witness the assumption of office of Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande as the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The ceremony will take place at the UN New York headquarters, United States of America, on Sept. 16 and 17, ahead of the High-Level week of the UNGA when leaders of the nations of the world take turns to address the General Assembly.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.
He said: “A Nigerian government team to the historic event which will be led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama will include the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar and the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.’’
Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN was elected President of the 74th session of the General Assembly by acclamation on Tuesday, June 4, to serve the one-year role with a strong mandate from his home government, that nominated him, endorsed by the Group of African States and adopted unanimously by the member-states.
The Muhammad-Bande presidency, coming 30 years after this country’s first, presents Nigeria and Africa a unique opportunity to ensure the implementation of the existing mandates for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The mandates particularly focus on peace and security, poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion.
“The General Assembly under Muhammad-Bande will also play a role in bridging the gaps and promoting collective action to address all international issues that deserve attention, in close coordination and collaboration with the Secretary-General, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council,’’ Shehu added.
The presidential aide, therefore, expressed the hope that the Muhammad-Bande presidency at the UNGA would ensure the actualisation of “the major priorities of Nigeria and the African continent’’.
Edited by Felix Ajide
President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), Ms Maria Espinosa, “is delighted” by news that Ebola may soon be a preventable and treatable disease.
Her spokesperson, Ms Monica Grayley, disclosed this while briefing UN correspondents in New York on Tuesday.
“The PGA welcomes the news that two of the four Ebola drugs being tested in the Democratic Republic of Congo have shown to be more effective.
“Espinosa is delighted to hear from the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, that the patients can now be offered an even better chance of survival.
“She commends the incredible work of WHO and other health professionals in tackling the outbreak of Ebola in the DRC,” Grayley said.
Reports say two people cured of Ebola with the experimental drugs were discharged from a treatment centre in Goma, eastern DR Congo, on Tuesday and reunited with their families.
The drugs, named REGN-EB3 and mAb114, work by attacking the Ebola virus with antibodies, neutralising its impact on human cells, according to the BBC.
The news outlet said the trial started last November and was conducted by an international research group coordinated by the WHO.
Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola
Nigeria remains unopposed in its bid for the presidency of the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Ms Monica Gravley, spokesperson to the President of the outgoing 73rd UNGA, Ms Maria Espinosa, disclosed this to UN correspondents in New York on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the country is represented in the race by its Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijani Mohammed-Bande.
Mohammed-Bande, a Professor of Political Science and former Director-General of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), formally announced his bid in New York on Saturday.
Election for the 74th UNGA president, which is zoned to Africa, will take place at the UN headquarters in New York on June 4.
An informal interactive session with candidates for the position is scheduled for Monday also in New York, and would be webcast through UN WebTV
According to Gravley, the session will be led by Espinosa, an Ecuadorian, whose one-year tenure as President of the 73th UNGA ends in September.
Earlier in a letter to member states of the Assembly, Espinosa explained that the informal dialogues were aimed at “contributing to the transparency and inclusivity of the process’’.
UNGA is one of the six principal organs of the UN, the only one in which member nations have equal representation.
All 193 members of the United Nations are members of the General Assembly, with the addition of Holy See and Palestine as observer states
It is the main deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the UN.
Its powers include overseeing the UN budget, appointment of the non-permanent members to the Security Council, and appointment of the UN Secretary-General.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama says President Muhammadu Buhari’s outing at 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA), New York has made him an accepted and recognised global icon in the fight against corruption.
Onyeama made this known in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency after the conclusion of UNGA 2018 in New York.
“The UNGA 2018 has been extremely positive for Nigeria, Mr president addressed the General Assembly on various issues; his address shows Nigeria’s engagement with global issues and portrayed Nigeria as a responsible global partner.
“His address was very straight forward and shows Nigeria as an important global player, follow up on that was the meeting with the AU and New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).
“There, Mr President was a keynote speaker talking on corruption and the fight against corruption.
“These two events showed that Mr President is now an accepted recognised global icon in the fight against corruption and those events were well attended and his statement were well received,” he said.
Onyeama said that the president also engaged at a regional African level and showed himself to be a leader of the continent.
“On the global stage, he also made a very good presentation and cemented the Nigeria global status and that of himself. It was really a very successful outing for Mr President and Nigeria,” he said.
This, according to him, portrays Nigeria and Buhari’s government as a very responsible and projects positive image of the country and of Nigerians.
“The president also showed the world leaders that he is concerned with issues that will promote peace and prosperity in the world.
“He also talked on global fight against terrorism and issues on climate change, all those issues that we need to address to get the peaceful world that we all crave for,” he said.
Onyeama said commended Buhari’s meeting with Nigerians in the Diaspora in the U.S and described it as a great meeting that showed “the kind of respect and the affection that Nigerians abroad have for him’’.
He said that the Diasporas came out in a very large number from all works of lives and professions to show their support for Mr president’s efforts to lift Nigeria and Nigerians out of poverty.
He said that the president’s the bilateral meeting with President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo was also “very successful’’.
“It was at this meeting that Akufo-Addo announced that the foreigner shops shut in Ghana were to be reopened and that Nigerian traders were welcome in Ghana as ECOWAS citizens; that the laws passed were not targeted at Nigerians.
“It was a very important meeting because it has been a very concerned issue for the Nigerian government about the well being of Nigerians in Ghana,” he said.
Edited by: Grace Yussuf
Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama says some U.S. investors and business men have indicated interest to invest in some sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Onyeama said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on the sideline of the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York.
The minister said that the investors made the commitment during President Muhammadu Buhari’s meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York.
He recalled that the Mr President had at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had a bilateral meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State and some business groups in the U.S.
Onyeama described the president’s outing at the 73rd UNGA as a successful one which brought many gains to the country.
According to him, we can say that Nigeria has achieved his goal of coming to the conference.
“We had meetings with some business people and with New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) where some American businesses participated.
“And, the message is that since Mr President has assumed the presidency they are now more interested in investing in Nigeria.
“One of those things that I highlighted before we left for the conference was to let the world know that Nigeria was opened for business.
“And, in the president’s engagement with business community we have seen that there have been a vote of confidence in the country and his leadership,” he said.
He said that the president also had bilateral meetings with other countries strengthening Nigeria’s bilateral relations with the world at the bilateral level.
He said that the president during his engagement at the regional Africa level showed himself to be a leader of the continent.
“On the global stage, he also made a very good presentation and cemented the Nigeria global status and that of himself,” he said.
According to him, it is really has been a very successful outing for Mr President and Nigeria.
He said that the president in his engagement with African leaders and others at different stages was able to articulate his vision with regards to good governance, anti-corruption and security.
“Mr President’s presentation at the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and AU were well received and really showed his vision to the African leadership.
“The feedback received from his address to the General Assembly hit the right note and was well received and put Nigeria in very favourable light,” he said
Edited by: Gregory Mmaduakolam/Ekemini Ladejobi
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged ECOWAS member states to harmonise for consensus candidates to secure more seats in the African Union and UN.
Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency at the end of ECOWAS Ministers meeting at the sideline of the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York.
Onyeama said that the meeting, at the instance of Buhari who is the current President of ECOWAS Commission, was to reposition ECOWAS towards presenting a common front both at the AU and UN.
He said that Buhari urged the ECOWAS ministers to come up with a formula whereby they can evaluate each candidate in good time from ECOWAS countries and settle on one.
“At the moment the President of the ECOWAS Commission felt that we have a situation now where there are a lot of positions in the international organisation.
“We have many candidates from ECOWAS. Of course, the risk in it is that you now compete against yourself and you could have a situation where you knock yourselves out.
“So, the president suggested that we meet at the ministerial level while we are here at UNGA to enable us come up with a formula whereby we can evaluate each candidature in good time,” he said.
The minister said that this would enable the whole of ECOWAS block to come around a candidate and push the candidate forward.
“That will give the best possible chance for that candidate to succeed in the election rather than having different countries putting up different candidates and countering each other and ECOWAS become a loser,” he said.
President of the Commission, Jean Claude Brou said the meeting was to help ECOWAS harmonise so that members do not begin to fight one another at continental and world level.
“This meeting was made at the request of ministerial committee that they have to really look at this as the minister of foreign affairs of Nigeria said.
“It is important that we harmonise so that we don’t begin to fight each other to give the best chance to ECOWAS countries as a group to put candidate in international position whether at the UN, AU or any other.
“So the meeting went very well. It will set good criteria so that we can have efficient process in harmonising our position.
“There are several position in non permanent members in the Security Council and there are also positions in the international community and the African Union.
“It is important; that we are able to work on the process and select a number of criteria that will be used to look at all the various candidates that we have in future is a main achievement of this meeting,” he said.