Full Text of His Speech Below
The president of the United Nation’s General Assembly, Your Excellencies, Heads of States and governments, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election to preside over the 72nd session of the United Nations’ General Assembly. I also wish to express my country’s appreciation to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, for his steady leadership and this body’s dedication to the search for a peaceful and equitable world through the charter of the United Nations.
Every year we gather here to deliberate on the affairs of the world. Sometimes we implement what we talked about and move humanity an inch closer to that ideal relationship as members of the world community.
At other times, we have our talks and end up not implementing anything to the disappointment of millions and millions of people around the world who look up to this body to provide leadership in a world that is constantly oscillating between advancement and doom.
In all of these, we often forget that what we have accomplished in the last 72 years is unprecedented in the annals of human history. The world may be badly governed, but the fact that there is a form of governance agreed upon by all is an accomplishment in and of itself. So, I congratulate us all.
As a leader of one of the leading African nations, I want to see a United Nation’s Security Council that is expanded to have one or two African permanent members with veto powers. It is a fair thing to do – one that will benefit the world by giving it a chance for a more balanced outlook to matters of importance to us all. As we have learned in Nigeria, sometimes you need to change in order to remain the same. It is the first principle of renewal.
It is only when we add value and build capital that we will reduce the grim statistics of Africa’s child mortality rate from preventable deaths. It is only then that we can reduce deaths on the Mediterranean Sea of African youths running away from conflicts and poverty.
The challenge is ours. We accept the responsibility. As in the past, we know that we do well when we share skills and expertise. That was how we were able to work together with partners around the world to reduce the AIDS epidemic. That was how, in the last two decades, we were able to defeat diseases like polio, tuberculosis and ringworm in several parts of Africa.
Africans have always been appreciative of the assistance we receive. We have also paid back to the international community with our involvement in Peace Keeping missions across the world.
Mr. President, on matters of security, there is no gainsaying that when one part of the globe is insecure, all parts of the globe become potential victims of that insecurity. The activities of several extreme groups jeopardize not just the nation where they emanated but everyone far and in-between.
The free movement of fighters and weapons has all but made the issue of security a global problem. As we have learned in Nigeria, you compromise the security of the whole when components of the sum are not fully valued, appreciated and integrated with the whole.
We in Africa have been partners in the quest for a secure world. We will continue to be committed to the mission until all threats to peace across the world are eliminated. In Nigeria, we have degraded the capability of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
We are on the path to eliminating the last of their safe heavens. We have also secured the release of some of our abducted Chibok Girls. We are working hard to secure the release of the rest and to finish the job of closing the Boko Haram chapter and get the North East of Nigeria back to a peaceful region that it used to be.
Along this line, Mr. President, we at the United Nations need to do more to bring about a more equitable world where a large group of people does not feel suppressed, undervalued and alienated. Last year, I talked about the need for Palestinians to have their own state. Progress has not been made on that matter in the past one year. It is one of those problems that we must not punt to another generation.
Any glaring unfairness, like the Palestinian case, diminishes our moral authority to preach and lecture the world on other cases. As we have learned in Nigeria, our stubborn self-righteousness blocks our ears from hearing the cry of those that we left on the fringe of society and blocks our eyes from seeing and reading the handwriting on the wall.
Mr. President, Nigeria is always willing to work with the United Nations and other international organizations to advance human progress. May the United Nations continue on its challenging task of being an instrument for peace, and may the goals that this General Assembly “for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet” be accomplished in our time.
Thank you all for listening.
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria