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Buhari Bids Farewell To UNGA, Vows To Entrench Free, Fair Elections


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in New York vowed to entrench a process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.

In his farewell speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as President, he told the 77th session that next year, there would be a new face speaking for Nigeria from the podium of the Assembly Hall.

The President used his speech to strongly reiterate his commitment to constitutional term limits and Nigeria’s effort to promote rule of law and democracy in West Africa, citing the country’s support to The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Chad during their political impasse.

He said: ”We believe in the sanctity of constitutional term limits and we have steadfastly adhered to it in Nigeria. We have seen the corrosive impact on values when leaders elsewhere seek to change the rules to stay on in power.

”Indeed, we are now preparing for general elections in Nigeria next February. At the 78th UNGA, there will be a new face at this podium speaking for Nigeria.

”Ours is a vast country strengthened by its diversity and its common values of hard work, enduring faith and a sense of community.

”We have invested heavily to strengthen our framework for free and fair elections. I thank our partners for all the support that they have provided our election institutions.

”As President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair and transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.”

Highlighting support for democracy in the sub-region, Buhari said in The Gambia, Nigeria helped guarantee the first democratic transition since independence and stood by the democratically elected Government in Guinea-Bissau when it faced mutiny.

He added that following the tragic death of President Idris Deby Itno of Chad in the battlefield, Nigeria joined forces with its other neighbours and international partners to stabilize the country and encourage the peaceful transition to democracy, a process which is ongoing.

”Democracy is an idea that crosses time and borders. Certainly, democracy does have its limitations.

”The wheels of democracy turn slowly. It can demand compromises that dilute decisions.

”Sometimes, it bends too much to special interests that exercise influence, not always for the general good, in a manner disproportionate to their numbers.

”But it has been my experience that a democratic culture provides a Government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive change,” he said.



Recalling that the first time he could have addressed the Assembly was in 1984, as Military Head of State of Nigeria, Buhari said it was a great privilege to personally address the Assembly, thirty-one years later, in 2015, ”as the democratically elected President of my country.”

On the war in Ukraine, Buhari warned that the danger of escalation further justifies Nigeria’s resolute calls for a nuclear-free world and a universal Arms Trade Treaty, which are necessary measures to prevent global human disasters.

He demanded that world leaders must find quick means to reach consensus on the nuclear non-proliferation Treaty with related commitments by nuclear weapon states.

He said that the war would have adverse consequences on all, hindering the capacity of the international community to work together to resolve conflicts elsewhere, especially in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia:

On the use of technology, Buhari called attention to the use of social media to spread hate speech and divisive information, urging world leaders that in confronting these challenges they must come together to defend freedom of speech and uphold other values they cherish.

The President asserted that while social media is helpful in strengthening the foundations of society and common values, at its worst, it is a corrosive digital version of the mob, bristling with intolerance and division.

He noted that a key feature of the last decade has been the growing partnership between states and the increasingly influential non-state actors.

”There was a time when the most important event at this Assembly was the speech by the world’s most powerful leaders.

”Now a Tweet or Instagram post by an influencer on social or environmental issues may have greater impact, he said.

Buhari also called for outright debt cancellation for developing countries facing the most severe fiscal and liquidity challenges.

According to him, the multifaceted challenges facing most developing countries have placed a debilitating chokehold on their fiscal space, justifying the need to address the burden of unsustainable external debt by a global commitment to the expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative as well as outright cancellation.

On climate change, Buhari expressed concern that Africa and other developing nations, which produce only a small proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to industrial economies, are the hardest hit by its consequences as seen in the sustained droughts in Somalia and floods of unprecedented severity in Pakistan.

In concluding his address from the ”famous podium”, the President conveyed his final reflection to the world body, urging leaders to uphold values of justice, honour, integrity, among others.


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