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COVID-19: Buhari lauds UN, says it will have failed the world if failed to mobilise against COVID-19

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President Muhammadu Buhari has lauded the United Nations and its agencies for mobilizing and guaranteeing effective responses to COVID-19 pandemic, saying the body would have failed the world if did not.

He spoke on Tuesday night in his address to the 75th session of the UN General Assembly debate.

 

Buhari said the global humanitarian body would have failed those that look up to it to provide direction during a crisis of this magnitude if it failed to act.

Buhari, who delivered  Nigeria’s national statement through a video-message, on the first day of the debate, also spoke on his administrations efforts to address poverty in Nigeria and to ensure respect for human rights in the country.

This year’s theme is “Future We Want, The United Nations We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism- Confronting Coronavirus Through Effective Multilateral Action.”

“As we reflect on the future we want and the United Nations we need, we must realise that the people of the world not only look up to us: they count on us.

“If the United Nations system cannot mobilise the world to marshal out a truly effective and inclusive response to the coronavirus pandemic, then the United Nations would have failed in the core mission of giving expression, direction and solution to the yearnings of the international community.

“The future we want must guarantee human rights, human dignity, human prospects and prosperity. The principles of ‘Leaving No One Behind and Doing No Harm’ must be expressed through accountability, strategic growth initiatives and elimination of threats of all kinds,” he said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, and obtained by Persecondnews.

The president also used the occasion to canvass uninhibited supply of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to all.

He also pledged Nigeria’s continuous partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and some countries to ensure accelerated development and manufacturing of the vaccines.

While restating Nigeria’s commitment to working with member-states in the spirit of global cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general well-being, Buhari described this year’s theme of the General Assembly as most appropriate and timely.

“It captured the common desire for a renewed and revitalised organisation in need of multilateral approaches to many challenges facing the world.”

He also told the gathering what Nigeria had done in its quest to provide a future of hope and prosperity for all citizens.

“We intend to achieve this through the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Medium Term National Development for the period 2020-2025 and 2026-2030.

“We expect that these ambitious initiatives will deliver sustainable economic growth and development to Nigeria,” he said.

The president expressed concern about the level of devastation the pandemic had done to the world economy, including straining the capabilities of the health systems of many countries such as Nigeria, and how the country is coping with the situation.

“In the aftermath of the Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, we prioritised vulnerable groups, including women, children, older persons and the unemployed, in our efforts to provide medical and social assistance to cushion the socio-economic effects of the disease.

“Accordingly, we have expanded our National Social Register, to include an additional one million Nigerians. Our National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) has been the vehicle for reaching out to the poor and vulnerable members of the Nigerian population, as well as providing cover for over 12 million households,” he said.

On the responses of world bodies, Buhari commended the efforts of the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in combating the pandemic, noting with appreciation the $2 billion Global Response Plan launched by the UN Secretary-General to fund the coronavirus response in the poorest countries.

Specifically, he lauded the UN Secretary-General’s call for a cease-fire in conflict areas to enable humanitarian assistance reach groups vulnerable to the virus.

On poverty eradication in Nigeria, the president said his administration had commenced the disbursement of N10.9 billion to households on the platform of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as palliatives.

He said the government was also implementing a N500 billion fiscal stimulus package and sustained delivery of humanitarian and social interventions to poor and vulnerable households.

According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had launched a N3.5 trillion-stimulus package to boost manufacturing and facilitate import substitution.

He urged the international community to cooperate in the effort to address the scourge of poverty, particularly in developing countries and reminded them  that Nigeria was still battling Boko Haram and other forms of banditry.

He urged countries to take a strong action against illicit flow of small arms and light weapons.

“Nigeria remains deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons, particularly on the continent of Africa. In Nigeria, we are still facing violent extremism from the insurgency of Boko Haram and bandits,” he said.

He noted that Nigeria counts on cooperation with neighbours and UN counter-terrorism bodies to overcome terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin and the wider Sahel Region.

Buhari also commended the President of the 74th General Assembly, Prof Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, for launching an Alliance for Poverty Eradication in June.

He enjoined global leaders, particularly from the global North, to support the Alliance at a time when the COVID-19 is reversing gains made in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and pushing an additional half a billion people into extreme poverty.

On disarmament, international peace and security, Buhari said Nigeria remained deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons, particularly on the continent of Africa.

He called on the international community to renew efforts to stem this traffic and promote the Arms Trade Treaty with a view to codifying accountability in the battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and acts of piracy.

”We will vigorously sustain the rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement of victims of terrorism and insurgency in the North East. The North-East Development Commission has been established for that purpose.”

The President also renewed his call for international support for the regional efforts to raise $50 billion required to actualise this initiative.

On quality education, the president announced that Nigeria would be hosting the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools in 2021.

“Quality education for all is the cornerstone of sustainable development. I invite you all to Nigeria to participate in the Conference which aims to advocate for the protection of education from attack as we work together towards the future we want,” he said.

The president reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to promoting international peace, security and sustainable development as well as strengthening partnerships and cooperation with international organisations.

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