Buhari seeks help to end Boko Haram

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President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday approached the United Nations (UN) for help in his battle to make the country safe for all.

He urged the world body and the international community to support the Federal Government in addressing the insecurity that has become a major concern to all.

The President decried the prevailing condition of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the various camps across the troubled states.

Buhari’s plea came on a day the UN poured cold water on Nigeria’s bid to take a permanent seat at the U.N. Security Council.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, who arrived in the country on Monday, said the much-talked about reform aimed at opening up the Council may be a mirage after all.

Her reason: there is no political will to see the reform to a logical conclusion.

On Nigeria’s rising security challenges, Buhari said: “The condition of IDPs in the country is pathetic. We have at least a million children who neither know their parents nor where they come from.”

The President also pointed out the damage to infrastructure, particularly in the Northeast, which he said will need international help to restore.

“Bridges have been blown up, schools, hospitals, churches, mosques, and other buildings have been destroyed. All these will be rehabilitated, and every form of international help is welcome,” the President noted.

On the recharge of Lake Chad through inter-basin water transfer from Congo River, Buhari said climate change was quite real, noting that no fewer than 30 million people have been affected by the shrinking lake, with at least half of them being Nigerians.

He stressed the role the international community needed to play in the endeavour, since recharging the lake is beyond the financial power of the affected countries.

On the lack of political will to push through reform in the UN Security Council, Ms. Espinosa Garcés said it was bogged down by divisive bickering.

The 15-member UN Security Council has only five permanent members – United States, (U.S., Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom (UK).

The remaining 10 are non-permanent members that are chosen yearly for two-year terms, distributed on a regional basis as follows: five for African and Asian states; one for Eastern European states; two for the Latin American and Caribbean states; and two for Western European and other states.

The reform would have expanded the permanent seat, Nigeria has been jostling for Africa’s envisaged sole seat in the Council.

Ms. Espinosa said: “Regarding the question of UN Security Council reform, I have to say very honestly that this is one of the most complex, divisive and contentious negotiations processes at the UN.

“As you know, the reform of the Security Council is under the responsibility of the UNGA, and I have appointed two co-chairs to lead the works of the inter-governmental negotiations that have been taking place for 10 years now.

“The process of reforms started 25 years ago and the mandate to negotiate the reform came 10 years ago when I was the Ambassador of Ecuador at the UN. And at the time I thought we had a resolution to start the negotiations and with a great naivety, I thought this is going to be a process that will, perhaps be for two or three years.

“Ten years later, I have to say that there is no consensus, there are very different views and positions regarding the reform process. As we know, we need consensus to advance reforms.

“This is one of the issues where my work as the president is to lead to make sure that we agree on the fundamentals to ensure that the process is inclusive and transparent. That the outcome of the reform is going to depend very much on the political will of member states themselves.

“Then, of course, the African position is well known and there are also different groups that also have different positions; we are trying to bring them together and find a common denominator.

“And the common denominator is that the Security Council has to deliver more and better because they have the main responsibility to deliver on peace and security agenda of the organisation.”

Speaking on the humanitarian needs around the Lake Chad area and the role of the UN, the UNGA President said the global body would deploy its capacities in conjunction with governments of the Lake Chad Basin to improve humanitarian aid to meet the people’s need.

She said: “I have specific numbers on how much, specific coverage and people but everything we do is in strict and close coordination with the governments of the Lake Chad Basin.

“As you know, the UN has signed a five-year UN cooperation framework with Nigeria whereby $4.5 million will, channelled there, according to the Nigerian government’s priorities.”

Ms. Espinosa, who is UNGA’s 73rd President, was also quoted to have praised President Buhari’s leadership of ECOWAS, and of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, pledging to call the attention of the international community to the “hurting effects” of the Lake Chad problem, and other issues raised by the Nigerian leader.

According to a Presidency statement issued at the end of the meeting at the State House, the UNGA President also praised Nigeria for rehabilitating the UN building in Abuja, which was destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents during an attack in August 2011.

She commended Nigeria for being a key part of the UN system, saying the country was well respected in the global body, as “Nigeria is a major troops’ contributor to peace keeping operations, and a major part of the human rights architecture”.

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