COVID-19: UN General Assembly To Hold First Virtual Meeting

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 30, 2019, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf , President of the International Court of Justice, gives his Report of the International Court of Justice during the 74th Session of the General Assembly at the United Nations on October 30, 2019. AFP

 

This year’s UN General Assembly will be held virtually for the first time in history because of the coronavirus pandemic, its president announced Wednesday.

The meeting is still scheduled for September 22-29 but will be carried out with previously recorded speeches by world leaders, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, who is from Nigeria, said in a letter to UN member countries.

“I surmise that the limitations on international travel and convening of large in-person meetings as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, may, in varying degrees, still be in effect in September 2020,” Muhammad-Bande wrote.

Member states must send the UN an embargoed speech of up to 15 minutes by their president, prime minister, some government minister or UN ambassador at least five days before the assembly, he said.

And a diplomat from each mission can attend a real life session during which the speeches will be broadcast or read aloud from the podium of the UN assembly hall.

Last month UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was unlikely that world leaders could meet in September as planned, because of the global health crisis.

The General Assembly is the world’s largest diplomatic gathering, and entails hundreds of side events and bilateral or multilateral meetings of world leaders.

It has never been cancelled since the United Nations was founded in 1945.

But it has been postponed twice: in 2001 because of the September 11 attacks in the United States, and in 1964 because of a financial crisis.

AFP

UNGA Presidency: Nigeria Stands A Chance – Peace Ambassador

The United Nations Ambassador for Peace, Ambassador Ginika Tor

The United Nations Ambassador for Peace, Ambassador Ginika Tor, has said that Nigeria stands a chance to run for the next Presidency of the global body.

Tor stated this on Tuesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, hours after the outgoing President of the UN General Assembly, Maria Garces, visited President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.

“As God will have it, the President of UNGA has already officially announced him as the first candidate for this position.

“Nigeria stands a huge chance and the visit of the President has gone a long way to say yes, we are going to have it,” she stated.

Tor’s comments come shortly after Garces hinted that Nigeria will be assuming Presidency of U.N. General Assembly when the term of the incumbent expires.

READ ALSO: UN General Assembly President Visits Nigeria

During a press conference today with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, the UNGA President indicated Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to United Nations, Professor Tijani Muhammad-Bande may become the next President of the United Nations General Assembly.

If Bande becomes Garces’ successor, he would be the second Nigerian to be appointed President of UNGA after Mr Joseph Garba who held the position between 1989 and 1990.

The professor was born at Zagga in present-day Kebbi State and holds M.A in Political Science from the Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, the USA in 1981 and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1987.

68th BON General Assembly In Photos

The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) held its 68th General Assembly today, November 27 in Abuja.

The event with the theme “The Nigerian Media and the War Against Corruption,” had in attendance the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu and Chairman BON, Mr John Momoh, among others.

See Photos below:

 

 

UNGA: Buhari’s Speech Did Not Address Direct Issues – Law Expert

An International Law expert, Dapo Thomas has criticised the speech made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the United Nations General Assembly in New York saying it didn’t address direct issues affecting Nigerians.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Breakfast Show, Sunrise Daily, Thomas said the president spoke from a general perspective, rather than address specific issues as it affects his home country, Nigeria.

“There must be a particular issue you want to raise. Do you want to raise the North Korean issue? Do you want to raise the asset recovery issue? Do you want to talk about child mortality in Nigeria?

“When you look at the speech, it adopts a generalist approach instead of a particularistic approach. A generalist approach in the sense that so many issues were discussed and this should not be.”

The United Nations GeneralAssembly is a platform where major issues affecting world countries are discussed. Thomas said Buhari should have used this international platform to raise cogent issues affecting Nigeria and Africa in general.

“When you have a platform to exhibit and discuss things that are germane to your continent, to your region or to your country, you pick only one and then other issues you want to raise may be tangential, may be subsidiary to the main one. The president did not do that. From what we read in his speech, we do not even know which one is the substance,” Thomas said.

Thomas’ comment is coming barely 24 hours after President Buhari addressed world leaders at UN General Assembly.

The president in his speech called on world leaders to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, modern-day slavery among several others.

Sri Lanka General Explains Why He Was Denied Visa To Attend UN

Sri Lanka’s ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka on Tuesday said he had been denied a visa to attend the UN General Assembly because of unresolved war crime allegations against the military.

The war-time general, who is now minister of regional development, said he was due to travel to New York this week, but he was the only one in the Sri Lankan delegation not issued a visa.

Fonseka said he could not accompany President Maithripala Sirisena who left Colombo on Sunday to address the United Nations General Assembly.

“I was not given a visa because of the war crimes allegations against the military,” Fonseka told reporters. “That is why I say they must be investigated.”

He said the excesses by a “few” during the final stages of the island’s Tamil separatist war should not tarnish the image of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The military crushed separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009 following a no-holds-barred offensive that also triggered allegations against the forces of killing at least 40,000 Tamil civilians.

The government at the time insisted that no civilians were killed by its troops and faced international censure over its dismal human rights record.

Fonseka, who led the military, has maintained that he did not order troops to target civilians but has acknowledged that there may have been excesses that should be investigated.

The new government, which came to power in January 2015, promised investigations but those are yet to begin.

Earlier this month Fonseka accused his successor Jagath Jayasuriya of committing crimes against Tamil rebel suspects during and after the island’s ethnic war and said he was ready to testify against the former military commander.

A human rights group filed two complaints in Colombia and Brazil against Jayasuriya, who was Sri Lanka’s ambassador to several South American countries until recently.

The group alleged that Jayasuriya oversaw torture camps and was responsible for hundreds of disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the final stages of the conflict when he was a senior officer.

The UN has estimated that at least 100,000 people were killed between 1972 and 2009.

Tiger rebels have been accused of using human shields and killing civilians in their guerrilla war for a separate homeland for the minority ethnic Tamil community in the Sinhala-majority nation.

Buhari Arrives New York For UN General Assembly

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived New York to join other world leaders for the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

The high-level events for the UNGA is scheduled to start on Tuesday, September 19th.

The President who arrived New York at exactly 7:00 pm local time was accompanied by his cabinet members and Governor Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State, David Umahi of Ebonyi State and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State for the event.

He was received at the JF Kennedy Airport by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, Tijjani Bande.

The special adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina also in New York said, “This is a global platform and for us as Nigerians, that the President is here, in person, is a big achievement.

“We know that, in the first eight months of the years, the President was indisposed and the fact that he is here today is a big achievement for the country and for him as a person.”

More Photos…

From Right to Left: President Muhammadu Buhari with Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari; Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi; Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu as he arrives New York for 72nd Session of the United Nation General Assembly on September 17, 2017.

Terrorism, Stolen Funds Repatriation Top Nigeria’s Agenda At UN General Assembly

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has revealed plans on issues which Nigeria will be presenting during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) set to hold in New York, next week.

Onyeama said today in Abuja that terrorism and repatriation of stolen funds will form the core of the country’s agenda at the UNGA, adding that the Federal Government is planning to seek assistance from more countries across the world for the repatriation of stolen funds stashed in their countries.

“The major global challenge is the issue of terrorism and it is one of the priorities Mr President has identified and the country is fully engaged in identifying it.

“We will again be engaging with the international community in trying to find a definite and lasting solution to the global challenge of terrorism. We will share with the international community the challenges that we have been facing,” he said.

Other issues to be raised, according to the Minister include finding a lasting solution to the issues of security, especially the insurgency in the north-east region and how to uphold the human rights of the citizens.

Organised Labour Asks UN, AU To Sanction Morocco Over Western Sahara

Western-SaharaThe Organised labour movement in Nigeria is asking the international community to impose economic sanctions on Morocco for continuing to colonise Western Saharan people despite the United Nations’ resolution for their decolonisation.

Professor Ibrahim Gambari, a guest speaker at a forum organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, to push for the liberation of the Saharan people also called on the United Nations to back their resolutions on decolonising of Western Sahara with actions.

He stated that the United Nations had in its 1960 General Assembly reached a resolution which recognised the rights to self-rule for Western Sahara people.

Both the NLC and the guest speaker believe that the international community needed to do more to help in liberating Western Sahara.

Referendum To Be Conducted

At the event, the NLC chanted solidarity songs before leaders of the organised labour movements took their turn to give speeches that centred on the liberation of West Sahara.

Some of those at the event were the President of ASSU, Nasir Isa and the President of the NLC, Ayuba Waba.

Although that UN resolution of 1960 asked for a referendum to be conducted, this has not been done 55 years after.

The Saharawi Ambassador to Nigeria, Oubi Bachir, expresses confidence that the call for economic sanctions would liberate his people.

Western Sahara is a disputed territory in the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

It has been a member of the African Union since 1984.

Since then, the region, which some have referred to as the last African nation to be decolonised, has been asking for international support for its full liberation from Morocco.

Britain Pledges To Assist Nigeria To Recover Stolen Funds

UK-Minister-Grant-ShappsThe British Government has reaffirmed its commitment to collaborate with Nigeria in its fight against corruption and to also render other technical assistance towards ensuring that Nigeria’s stolen funds are brought back for developmental purposes.

The country’s Minister for Africa, Rt Hon Grant Shapps, made the pledge while speaking at the launching of a 100 Million Pounds Accountability and Governance Programme in Kaduna State, North West Nigeria.

The programme is aimed at fighting corruption and enthroning good governance in Nigeria.

The Minister noted that for Nigeria to overcome the challenges of poverty, unemployment, insecurity, illiteracy among other problems, government at all levels must collectively tackle corruption and ensure accountability and transparency in governance.

Rt Hon Shapps, who is also Head of the Department for International Development (DFID), gave the assurance that the British Government would continue to assist Nigeria with technical support and capacity building of its officials to tackle corruption and fight poverty.

He added that the accountability programme would support Nigeria to build transparent institutions and enhance scrutiny in public expenditure as well as increasing citizens’  awareness in governance.

While stressing the need for strong actions to be meted against corrupt citizens, Rt Hon Grant Shapps stated that corruption in Nigeria also affects the United Kingdom directly, hence the need for both countries to come together strongly and tackle the monster.

He urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to take action towards ensuring transparency in the oil and gas sector, developing a realisable budget at all levels, cutting waste and leakage in the public sector and empowering the law enforcement agencies to discharge their responsibilities effectively.

Speaking during a courtesy visit to Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, the British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, highlighted some of the areas of collaboration with the state which include providing technical and financial assistance in the fight against corruption and developing the education and health sectors, among others.

According to him, where public institutions are weak, corruption is bound to thrive.

High point of the visit was an interaction with over 150 physically challenged persons in Kakuri area of Kaduna State, where the Minister promised that Britain would focus attention in empowering indigent people especially those in rural communities.

 

 

UK Minister Pledges Support For Nigeria’s Energy, Prosperity And Security

NigeriaThe UK’s Minister for Africa, Grant Shapps, has pledged to support Nigeria’s stability and development at the start of his first visit to the country.

Arriving in Abuja, Grant Shapps praised the UK’s close relationship with Nigeria and set out how the two countries would work together to increase prosperity, trade and security.

During his visit he would meet with ministers and senior government officials, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and the Kaduna and Lagos State Governors.

He would also see how the UK’s investment in Nigeria’s solar energy market can provide a clean and reliable answer to the country’s problem of energy access.

“The UK has a strong relationship with Nigeria and we will continue to promote vital investment, tackle corruption and create a safer and more prosperous future for the country.

“From a trade relationship worth over £6 billion every year to our military cooperation against Boko Haram, Nigeria is a country whose security and prosperity truly matters to the UK.

“With more than half of Nigeria currently living without electricity, it is vital that more people can access clean and reliable solar energy. Not only will this transform people’s everyday lives, it is a tremendous opportunity for growth.

“I am determined that Britain will build on its close relationship with Nigeria by sharing our skills, knowledge and expertise,” Grant Shapps said.

The UK is providing a comprehensive package of support to Nigeria, including expanded military training and intelligence cooperation, anti-corruption capacity building and investigative support.

This is in addition to an annual development programme worth £218 million, contributing to the increasing prosperity at the heart of a thriving trade relationship worth £6.1 billion per year.

Grant Shapps’ visit follows a series of meetings between the UK’s Prime Minister and President Buhari, most recently at the United Nations General Assembly, and the UK Foreign Secretary’s attendance at the President’s inauguration in May 2015.

 

UN General Assembly Opens In New York

unThe United Nations (UN) General Assembly has opened in New York, United States (U.S.).

President Muhammadu Buhari, who arrived New York on Friday, has reacted to the Saudi Arabia stampede, describing it as a calamity, also commiserating with the families of Nigerians who died, alongside over 700 pilgrims.

President Buhari believes that the stampede at Mina which claimed the life of a Nigerian journalist, Bilkisu Yusuf, and one Professor Tijjani Miskin is very tragic.

The President ends his statement, taking note of assurances from the government of Saudi Arabia that such catastrophe will not happen again, and that this particular incident will be thoroughly investigated.

Top on the agenda as President Buhari holds talks with world leaders will be domestic developmental issues, bilateral relations, the war against terrorism, countering violent extremism, the enhancement of global security, peace-keeping operations, climate change and the adoption of a post 2015 global development agenda.

President Buhari is also scheduled to address the World Leaders Summit on Violent Extremism to which he was personally invited by Mr. Ban Ki Moon during the Secretary-General’s recent visit to Nigeria.