By Banji Ayoola
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday called on the United Nations to find peaceful means of quickly ending the ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict, which he lamented has already created unprecedented strains for the entire humanity in this generation.
He made the passionate call in his address to the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations, which he told categorically that the conflict with its adverse consequences for us all, is pushing to the back burner, and indeed diverting the attention of world leaders and humongous resources, to prosecuting a needless war while neglecting other challenges confronting earthly humanity generally.
In his words: “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.”
According to President Buhari: “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.”
Calling on the UN to take seriously the guiding principle of promotion of global peace and security, development and human rights, which informed its formation in 1945 after the Second World War, he said: “The guiding principle 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.
“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.”
He noted that: “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.”
President Buhari therefore called for a restructuring of the UN agencies saying: “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 United Nations 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.”
On Nigeria, President Buhari said: “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 are now preparing for general elections in Nigeria next February. At the 78th UNGA, there will be a new face at this podium speaking for Nigeria.
”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.
“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.”
He said Nigeria has supported democracy in the sub-region, adding in The Gambia, Nigeria helped guarantee the first democratic transition since independence and stood by the democratically elected Government in Guinea-Bissau when it faced mutiny.
According to him, as a result of the death of President Idris Deby Itno of Chad Nigeria joined forces with its other neighbours and international partners to stabilise the country and encourage the peaceful transition to democracy.
He said: “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,” he said.
He said as he approached the end of his second and final four-year term, he said much has changed in Nigeria, in Africa, and in the world, yet, some challenges remain.
The President said: “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 battlefield, we joined forces with its other neighbours & Int’l partners to stabilize the country & encourage the peaceful transition to democracy, a process which is ongoing.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Mr. President, 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.
“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.
“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.”