President Buhari has called for a collective action against factors threatening democracy in West Africa.

In his speech at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, the President warned that democratic gains of the past decades in the sub-region were now being eroded due to such threats.

The President noted that such factors included the recent trend of unconstitutional takeover of power, sometimes in reaction to unilateral changes of constitutions by some leaders.

He affirmed Nigeria’s support to efforts by ECOWAS, AU and the UN to address the growing challenge, urging leaders to adhere strictly to their countries’ constitutions regarding term limits to prevent political tension in the sub-region.

The President urged the international community not only to deal with the symptoms of conflict, but also poor and undemocratic governance, human rights abuses, poverty, ignorance, injustice and inequalities, which are the immediate causes that fuel conflicts.

He observed that the solution required long term investments and more effective international co-operation towards conflict prevention.

President Buhari also spoke about the international agenda of interest to Nigeria, including the Covid-19 pandemic, Arms Trade Treaty, climate change, terrorism, anti-corruption, debt suspension, international trade, UN Security Council Reform, Palestinian Question, and racial discrimination,

On the issue of debt in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the President urged G20 countries to extend their debt suspension initiatives to developing countries, Least Developed Countries, as well as Small Island Developing States facing fiscal and liquidity challenges.

The President also called for outright debt cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges

He however commended the current initiatives by the international financial institutions and the G20, aimed at significantly mitigating the economic situation of the indebted countries, and urged for more efforts in that regard.

President re-echoed his advocacy for equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, while outlining steps taken by Nigeria to achieve moderate success in containing the virus.

‘‘We fully support the COVAX initiative from which we have benefitted. We also thank the United States of America, Turkey, India, China, European Union, and others for the vaccines provided.

‘‘Despite the acknowledgement however, I would like to reiterate my call for a fairer and more equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries so that, together, we can fight and contain the pandemic.

‘‘The rising wave of newer and more contagious strains, makes this even more urgent. No country can afford the socio-economic implications of prolonged shutdown. It is imperative to underscore that no one is safe until everyone is safe,’’ he said.

On Nigeria’s intervention to halt the pandemic, the President said:

‘‘At the outset, we recognised detection and contact tracing to be important tools in combating the virus.

On the fight against terrorism, the President told the UN General Assembly that the Nigerian security forces had recorded considerable success, leading to the voluntarily surrendering of a great number of terrorists.

President Buhari said Nigeria would continue to work closely with UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and entities with a view to bringing the scourge to an end.

The President also called for reforms that would engender recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, build resilience to future shocks and pursue transformative development strategies that could deliver the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

He observed that fair and equitable trade would eventually eliminate the need for aid, emphasising that Nigeria and other countries do not intend to stay indefinitely looking for aid.

The President renewed the call for the reforms of the UN Security Council, stressing that inter-governmental negotiations on the issue was taking too long, promoting stakeholders around the world to wonder how such power could be concentrated, with scant representation.

On the Palestinian question, the President encouraged Israel and Palestine to re-engage in dialogue based on relevant UN resolutions and Initiatives.

President Buhari expressed deep concerns at the devastating effects of small arms and weapons, calling for accountability in conventional arms trade, and called for a worldwide application of the Arms Trade Treaty to codify accountability in conventional arms trade, which is critical to the security of nations.

PR/Bello Wakili