Nigerian President Bola Tinubu emphasised on five (5) main issues in his remarks at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held in New York on Wednesday, spanning from his economic reforms to climate change.
According to Tinubu, he is open to working with anyone that supports Nigeria and Africa having more influence in the world.
The Nigerian President stated that there were five crucial issues he wished to emphasise in his address, and they were as follows:
1. African Development
President Tinubu, speaking on the theme, emphasised the importance of rapid development across Africa in order to foster industrial expansion.
He said, “First, if this year’s theme is to have any impact at all, global institutions, other nations and their private sector actors must see African development as a priority, not just for Africa but in their interests as well.
“Due to both longstanding internal and external factors, Nigeria’s and Africa’s economic structures have been skewed to impede development, industrial expansion, job creation, and the equitable distribution of wealth.
“If Nigeria is to fulfil its duty to its people and the rest of Africa, we must create jobs and the belief in a better future for our people.
“We must also lead by example.
“To foster economic growth and investor confidence in Nigeria, I removed the costly and corrupt fuel subsidy while also discarding a noxious exchange rate system in my first days in office. Other growth and job oriented reforms are in the wings.
“I am mindful of the transient hardship that reform can cause. However, it is necessary to go through this phase in order to establish a foundation for durable growth and investment to build the economy our people deserve.
“We welcome partnerships with those who do not mind seeing Nigeria and Africa assume larger roles in the global community.
“The question is not whether Nigeria is open for business. The question is how much of the world is truly open to doing business with Nigeria and Africa in an equal, mutually beneficial manner.
“Direct investment in critical industries, opening their ports to a wider range and larger quantity of African exports and meaningful debt relief are important aspects of the cooperation we seek.”
2. Entrenchment Of Democracy
President Tinubu spoke on the importance of democratic tenets while criticising the wave of military coups across some African countries.
He noted that this situation must be redressed in order to forestall instability in the region.
Tinubu explained, “Second, we must affirm democratic governance as the best guarantor of the sovereign will and well-being of the people. Military coups are wrong, as is any tilted civilian political arrangement that perpetuates injustice.
“The wave crossing parts of Africa does not demonstrate favour towards coups. It is a demand for solutions to perennial problems.
“Regarding Niger, we are negotiating with the military leaders. As Chairman of ECOWAS, I seek to help re-establish democratic governance in a manner that addresses the political and economic challenges confronting that nation, including the violent extremists who seek to foment instability in our region. I extend a hand of friendship to all who genuinely support this mission.”
3. Human Trafficking/Exploitation
The Nigerian President also bemoaned the trafficking of Africans who are exploited in their search for a better life.
He also urged African countries to improve their economies in order to halt this illegal migration which births human exploitation and trafficking.
Tinubu explained, “This brings me to my third crucial point. Our entire region is locked in protracted battle against violent extremists. In the turmoil, a dark channel of inhumane commerce has formed. Along the route, everything is for sale. Men, women and children are seen as chattel.
“Yet, thousands risk the Sahara’s hot sand and the Mediterranean’s cold depths in search of a better life. At the same time, mercenaries and extremists with their lethal weapons and vile ideologies invade our region from the north.
“This harmful traffic undermines the peace and stability of an entire region. African nations will improve our economies so that our people do not risk their lives to sweep the floors and streets of other nations. We also shall devote ourselves to disbanding extremist groups on our turf.
“Yet, to fully corral this threat, the international community must strengthen its commitment to arrest the flow of arms and violent people into West Africa.”
4. Conflict/exploration of mineral-rich regions.
President Tinubu also urged African countries to secure the continent’s mineral-roch regions in order to halt exploitation in those areas.
Citing the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he warned that the problem might cascade into neighbouring countries, if left unchecked.
“The fourth important aspect of global trust and solidarity is to secure the continent’s mineral rich areas from pilfering and conflict. Many such areas have become catacombs of misery and exploitation. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has suffered this for decades, despite the strong UN presence there. The world economy owes the DRC much but gives her very little.
“The mayhem visited on resource rich areas does not respect national boundaries. Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, CAR, the list grows.
“The problems also knocks Nigeria’s door.
“Foreign entities abetted by local criminals who aspire to be petty warlords have drafted thousands of people into servitude to illegally mine gold and other resources. Billions of dollars meant to improve the nation now fuel violent enterprises. If left unchecked, they will threaten peace and place national security at grave risk.
“Given the extent of this injustice and the high stakes involved, many Africans are asking whether this phenomenon is by accident or by design.
“Member nations must reply by working with us to deter their firms and nationals from this 21st century pillage of the continent’s riches,” Tinubu stated.
5. Climate Change
The Nigerian president also warned against the deadly effects of climate change, noting the example of Northern Nigeria suffering from the effects of desertification.
He also revealed how coastal floods have decimated the ecosystem in the South, displacing many Nigerians in the process.
Tinubu advocated a political consensus in order to battle the scourge.
He said, “Fifth, climate change severely impacts Nigeria and Africa. Northern Nigeria is hounded by desert encroachment on once arable land. Our south is pounded by the rising tide of coastal flooding and erosion. In the middle, the rainy season brings floods that kill and displace multitudes.
“As I lament deaths at home, I also lament the grave loss of life in Morocco and Libya. The Nigerian people are with you.
“African nations will fight climate change but must do so on our own terms. To achieve the needed popular consensus, this campaign must accord with overall economic efforts.
“In Nigeria, we shall build political consensus by highlighting remedial actions which also promote economic good. Projects such as a Green Wall to stop desert encroachment, halting the destruction of our forests by mass production and distribution of gas burning stoves, and providing employment in local water management and irrigation projects are examples of efforts that equally advance both economic and climate change objectives.
“Continental efforts regarding climate change will register important victories if established economies were more forthcoming with public and private sector investment for Africa’s preferred initiatives.”
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