Buhari’s speech at the 76th United Nations General Assembly 2021 In New York

Mr. President,

1.Let me, on behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, congratulate you on your well-deserved election as President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I would like to assure you of the full support and cooperation of the Nigerian delegation throughout your tenure.

2. I would like to commend your predecessor, His Excellency, Mr. Volkan Boskir, for the many remarkable achievements recorded during his tenure, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Permit me to congratulate the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on his re-election and commend his strong commitment to making the UN more alive to its responsibilities.

4. I also want to express my gratitude to him for re-appointing Ms. Amina Mohammed, as the Deputy Secretary General to assist him in discharging his heavy responsibilities.

5. The theme of this year’s General Assembly – “Building resilience through hope – to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of the people, and revitalise the United Nations, sums up our common desire to rescue our planet, recover our economies, and restore hope to all the peoples of the world.

6. In this regard, my delegation will continue to support the United Nations, as the indispensable forum for international cooperation and the cornerstone of the multilateral system, rooted in respect for international law, including international human rights law and predicated on a rules-based order.

Mr President,

7. I want to thank the international community for the concerted response to COVID-19. The solidarity and drive to contain the first truly global health emergency of our time is a pointer to the many things we can achieve if we work together.

8. On our part, Nigeria has made strenuous efforts to contain the virus and halt its deadly onslaught on our people. Our efforts have been rewarded with moderate success.

9. At the outset, we recognised detection and contact tracing to be important tools in combating the virus. In this connection, from a mere four laboratories with testing and detection capacities, we ramped up the facilities to over 140 centres today.

10. Similarly, we built isolation centres and emergency hospitals wards in record time all over the country. We carry out genomic sequencing in designated laboratories across the country with a view to detecting variants in circulation.

11. In addition, over 40,000 health care workers have recently been trained on Infection, Prevention and Control measures with the support of various partners. Through the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, we have established 16 infectious disease treatment centres located within our teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres.

12. Nigeria remains grateful for the assistance received from our partners and friends all over the world. Vaccination is the key to our safe emergence from the pandemic. We fully support the COVAX initiative from which we have benefitted. We also thank the United States of America, Turkey, India,China, European Union, and others for the vaccines provided.

13. Despite the acknowledgement however, I would like to reiterate my call for a fairer and more equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries so that, together, we can fight and contain the pandemic. The rising wave of newer and more contagious strains, makes this even more urgent. No country can afford the socio-economic implications of prolonged shutdown. It is imperative to underscore that no one is safe until everyone is safe.

14. Nigeria remains deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons. Their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many regions of the world are having devastating humanitarian and socio-economic consequences, especially on  the continent of Africa.

15. It is on this note that my delegation calls for the world wide application of the Arms Trade Treaty to codify accountability in conventional arms trade, which is critical to the security of nations. This is in recognition of the need for a broad-based global partnership in the on-going battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and piracy.

16. We must deal not only with the symptoms of conflict but also the immediate causes that fuel conflicts in the first place. These include poor and undemocratic governance, human rights abuses, poverty, ignorance, injustice and inequalities.

17. There are no easy solutions to these conditions. They require long term investments and more effective international cooperation. In this connection, my delegation underscores the importance of promoting peaceful, unfettered, and inclusive participation of states in global actions towards conflict prevention. This will facilitate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063.

18 In West Africa especially, our democratic gains of the past decades are now being eroded. The recent trend of unconstitutional takeover of power, sometimes in reaction to unilateral changes of constitutions by some leaders, must not be tolerated by the international community. Nigeria fully supports the efforts by ECOWAS to address this growing challenge and appreciates the support of both the African Union and the United Nations. In this regard, I would like to reiterate that as leaders of our individual Member-States need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits. This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our sub-region.

Mr President,

19. Nigeria is fully committed to nuclear non-proliferation and has always supported the view that it should involve all States.

20. Disarmament Conventions deserve the support of all states, small, large, nuclear or non-nuclear. Nuclear weapons remain the ultimate agents of mass destruction, and their total elimination should be the final objective of all disarmament processes within the broad spectrum of goals being pursued by the United Nations.

21. In this regard, Nigeria would participate actively in the forthcoming Review Conference of the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty and also the First Meeting of states Parties to the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, scheduled to take place within the first quarter of 2022.

22. Nigeriaregards these upcoming events as important steps towards the realisation of a world free of nuclear weapons. We are, therefore, supportive of any diplomatic efforts in this direction. We hope that the upcoming NPT review conference would lead to a successful outcome that would facilitate the denuclearisation of the world. We would do our part to ensure such an outcome.

Our organization is at the peak of the multilateral system. It is also the pre-eminent body for solving our current and emerging challenges, and developing norms that are protective of us all. We need to re-commit to it, rejuvenate it to better serve us. Nigeria re-affirms its faith in the UnitedNations and is further resolved to continue to work with all Member-States for peace and security, development and the protection of human rights. In the current moment, hope for these, is dependent on how we assist each other to get COVID-19 out of all countries, regardless of their classification. We can and must do so.

58. In this regard, let me close my statement by paying special tribute to a great and humane internationalist, and an exemplary practitioner of multilateral cooperation. I am speaking of Chancellor Angela Merkel of theFederal Republic of Germany. As she exits the stage, we wish her well.

I thank you.

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