President Bola Tinubu will today address world leaders in his debut at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), held under the Presidency of Dennis Francis of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, at the UN headquarters in New York, United States.
As Heads of States take turns to deliver their addresses during the general assembly, Tinubu is expected to “highlight Nigeria’s efforts towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tackling climate change and ensuring international peace and security, among others.
“The important issue of illicit financial flows and asset return will also be re-echoed, to encourage stronger international cooperation,” according to a statement signed by the spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Francisa Omayuli, yesterday.
Tinubu’s attendance at UNGA marks his first since assuming the presidency in May this year. Addressing world leaders Tuesday evening, at about 6p.m. local time, the President will be the fifth African leader to speak on day one of the gathering and 14th speaker out of 20 leaders slated to speak today.
On Wednesday, the President is slated to participate in the high-level dialogue on financing for development. He will attend a high-level meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response.
On Thursday, he will be participating in the UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit and attend a high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage. He is also expected to join another high-level panel on reform of the global financial architecture.
On Friday, he will be attending the high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis. During the week, President Tinubu is scheduled to hold several bilateral meetings with world leaders, including the presidents of the United States, European Union Commission, Brazil, and South Africa, among others.
He will also advance his economic development agenda for aggressive investments attraction in meetings with the global leadership of transnational firms. Among such firms are Microsoft, Meta, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, and a few others.
The theme of the UNGA is: ‘Rebuilding Trust and Reigniting Global Solidarity: Accelerating Action on the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs towards peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all.’
The President had on Sunday night arrived in New York for the high-level UN meetings. He was received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar; Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande; and Nigeria’s Defence Attache, Washington D.C., Dangana Allu.
His reception was a departure from the usual tradition where officials would line up at the airport to welcome the president. This time, only three officials were at the airport to receive the president with the other Nigerian officials stationed at the UN Plaza Millennium Hilton Hotel to welcome him.
Also, Nigeria’s agenda at UNGA would involve securing strategic partnership for the technology sector cum the economy. The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, who disclosed this on his X (Twitter) handle, yesterday, said Nigeria will be seeking partnerships in three core areas of technology.
Tijani, in a document, titled: ‘Driving Nigeria’s Economic Growth through Global Partnerships in Innovation and Technology,’ said he would be seeking partnerships for the country’s Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), Artificial Intelligence (AI) training, and economic diversification through technology.
He said his attendance at several events on the sidelines of the 78th session of UNGA is significant as Nigeria positions itself at the nexus of technological innovation and sustainable development.
“I look forward to engagements that will help us secure partnerships and support for our plans to deliver a more inclusive and prosperous digital economy for Nigeria, in line with Mr. President’s agenda,” he stated.
The minister added that this year’s UNGA presents an opportunity for Nigeria to align its strategies, initiatives, and aspirations with the global community.
Speaking further on the three key agendas that will form the crux of his participation at the global event, Tijani said: “As we work towards bridging the digital divide, we seek partnerships that can boost the USPF. Our goal is to connect a vast number of unserved and underserved communities in Nigeria, fostering inclusivity and ensuring that every Nigerian benefits from the digital revolution.”
On positioning Nigeria as a hub for AI training, Tijani noted that the country has a vibrant pool of talent, potential and innovation.
“We aspire to put Nigeria on the global map as a premier destination for AI model training. Not only does this promise significant job creation, but it also emphasises our commitment to enhancing the inclusivity and robustness of AI datasets. We envision capturing the nuances of dark data from the global south, ensuring that AI solutions resonate with a diverse spectrum of lived experiences,” he stated.
On accelerating economic diversification through technology, Tijani said the agenda set forth by President Tinubu champions economic diversification powered by technological applications.
“To this end, we are in pursuit of partnerships that can increase capital inflow to Nigerian startups via Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), bolstering our entrepreneurial ecosystem and setting the stage for sustainable growth,” Tijani stated.
After thousands of speeches, meetings, and receptions this week at the UNGA summit, the United Nations is prepared to announce World Peace at the end of the global event, though topics at the two-week summit appear more numerous, volatile and hard-to-solve than before any other UN General Assembly. They include Russia’s war in Ukraine, lethal floods in Libya, multiple coups on the African continent, North versus South economic funding, violent crisis in Haiti, and climate change, to name a few.
Potentially weakening the impact of the event is the fact that U.S. President, Joe Biden, is to be the only leader of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council to attend. French President, Emmanuel Macron, is staying home ready to greet King Charles and work on deteriorating situations from Niger to Sudan.
British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, too has decided to skip – a rarity for the country – and Russian President, Vladimir Putin, now risks arrest when he travels. The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, never comes. Some UN old hands say having one out of five is nothing unusual in the history of the UNGA.
Nevertheless, 140 heads of state and government are scheduled to attend. Six vice presidents, four deputy prime ministers and over 30 ministers of state and chiefs of delegations will also stand at the rostrum to deliver remarks for their nations. Today, Brazil kicks off the speechmaking, followed by the U.S., Ukraine, Cuba, and Nigeria, among others.
In a first for the annual summit, Ukraine President, Volodymyr Zelensky, will be attending in person. Previously, he has appeared on video monitors in the General Assembly Hall. He is also expected to speak with Biden in Washington on Thursday.
Global disputes between the big powers of the UN are likely to hurt any chance of improving relations and making progress on several issues. Swiss Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl noted a rising rivalry between the United States and China in the chamber. And advocacy group Human Rights Watch urged nations not to get distracted by politics but to “keep human rights front and center during the week’s events.”