President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is scheduled to address world leaders during the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting on Monday. The annual high-level general debate of the UNGA is set to begin on September 18, 2023, with critical issues such as climate change, poverty, food insecurity, wars, humanitarian needs, and deepening inequality at the forefront,Daily Trust reports.
President Tinubu, in his maiden address to world leaders, will speak on the first day of the UNGA and is slated as the 14th speaker out of the 20 world leaders scheduled to speak on the opening day.
He will be the fifth African leader to take the platform for his presentation, following the presidents of South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Mozambique.
The overarching theme for this year’s UNGA is “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all.”
It is anticipated that President Tinubu, as the head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), will address the issue of military coups in West Africa during his presentation.
However, Nigeria’s diplomats in the US and the country’s UN permanent representative are hoping for a leaner delegation this year to avoid past embarrassments. President Tinubu has issued directives to bar federal government officials without specific roles from attending the New York meeting. The President directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to freeze visa processing for government officials seeking to travel to New York for UNGA activities. Furthermore, only government officials on the protocol lists forwarded by the approving authority will be accredited by Nigeria’s Permanent Mission in New York.
This directive has received commendation from diplomats and experts, who believe it will save the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from potential embarrassment. It aligns with the principle that the delegation’s composition should be determined by the theme and issues to be discussed at the UNGA.
However, the directive does not address the presence of state governors, who also travel to New York with large delegations, sometimes to meet with the president. These governors often find ways to attend the UNGA under the guise of a delegation.
In summary, the UNGA meeting and the size of the Nigerian delegation have been sources of concern in the past. President Tinubu’s directives aim to streamline the delegation, but they do not address the presence of state governors. The hope is that a more focused and relevant delegation will represent Nigeria’s interests at the UNGA while avoiding excessive expenditures and logistical challenges.