By Prudence Arobani, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, is set to be elected next week as the President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The election, which will hold at the UN headquarters in New York on June 4, has seen Muhammad-Bande emerged the only candidate for the coveted seat, to lead the 193-member states.
Muhammad-Bande’s election, will be the second time that Nigeria would produce the president of UNGA after three decades and since joining the UN as its 99th member in 1960.
The first was in 1989, during the tenure of late Gen. Joseph Garba.
Other countries elected as President of UNGA twice, are Argentina and Ecuador; all the other member states had been represented only once by their nationals holding this office.
Analysts say the UN General Assembly is undoubtedly the most prestigious, most representative and most visible organ of the United Nations where all the 193-member states are seen as equally represented.
The General Assembly is also one of the six principal organs of the UN, the only one in which all member nations have equal representation, and the main deliberative and policy-making organ of the organisation.
Its powers are to oversee the budget of the UN, appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General of the UN, receive reports from other parts of the UN, and make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions as well as establish numerous subsidiary organs.
The office of the president of UNGA changes every year, between the five geographic groups: African, Asian, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean, and Western European and other states.
Based on the geographic rotation, UNGA said in a statement that “the President of the 74th Session of the General Assembly is to be elected from the African States,” in “full respect of the established principle of geographical rotation,” among other reasons.
The current president, Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcè, who is Foreign Minister of Ecuador, was elected on June 5, 2018 and assumed duty in September 2018.
Thus, she will step aside for Muhammad-Bande in September for the Nigerian diplomat to lead the 193-member assembly as the UNGA presidency runs on a one-year tenure.
Analysts say Muhammad-Bande is no doubt the unbeatable candidate to lead the 74th United Nations General Assembly as he is eminently qualified to preside over the 193-member organisation.
The current president of UNGA, hinted this during a recent official visit to Nigeria and barely eight days after she announced Muhammad-Bade as the first candidate for the position.
She said: “Looking forward to a transition, good and smooth transition to the incoming president of the General Assembly, a Nigerian diplomat and professor that is really putting the name of Nigeria very higher.
“I’m looking forward to continue with this very smooth and organised transition to the next presidency.”
The UN Deputy Secretary-General, a distinguished Nigeria diplomat, Ms Amina Mohammed, also hinted that Muhammad-Bande was the unbeatable choice for the enviable position.
Mohammed, who spoke at an event organised by the Yar’Adua Foundation in New York recently, said “Muhammad-Bande, is the incoming President of the United Nations General Assembly, ‘In shaa Allah'(God willing).’’
Nigeria’s immediate past Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, also in his reaction, said that the outgoing UNGA president will be handing over to Muhammad-Bande.
“The president of UN General Assembly will hopefully be handing over as President of the General Assembly to a Nigerian.
“So, Nigeria will assume the presidency hopefully in a few months time, in the person of Nigeria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande,” Onyeama said.
To herald the return of Nigeria’s global leadership, Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to the UN, hosted a cocktail in New York, attended by the crème de la crème of the diplomatic community, UN staff, and Africans in Diaspora.
In separate speeches, diplomats, including Nigeria-born Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN, Fatima Kyari Mohammed, spoke glowingly of Muhammad-Bande as an outstanding scholar and diplomat.
The President of Egypt, who is the current Chairman of the African Union, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, declared Muhammad-Bande as “the Africa’s candidate” for UNGA presidency.
El-Sisi, represented by Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Mohamed Edrees, said the resolution to back the Nigerian candidate was adopted at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of AU in February.
While formally declaring his intention to vie for the presidency of the 74th UNGA at the cocktail, Muhammad-Bande pledged to make the organisation stronger.
He promised to promote international peace and security, prevent conflict, strengthen global action to tackle climate change, ensure inclusion, human rights, and the empowerment of youth and women.
He thanked the Government of Nigeria for nominating him for the position of President of the 74th Session of UNGA, and the African Union for extending its support by endorsing him for the position.
In his Vision Statement to the General Assembly, Muhammad-Bande noted that the 74th UNGA will be convened in the context of an increasingly turbulent world, with serious challenges confronting us.
To contribute to the transparency and inclusivity of the process, the President of the 73rd UNGA convened an informal interactive dialogue with Muhammad-Bande on May 13, where the Nigerian envoy had the opportunity to respond to questions from other stakeholders.
Observers at the session said Muhammad-Bande got plethora of endorsements from most countries as the Nigerian envoy responded satisfactorily to questions from the various stakeholders.
Giving insight into the support and endorsements, Muhammad-Bande said the team of officials at Nigeria’s Permanent Mission has always worked with colleagues from all regions of the world to achieve common objectives.
He also said apart from his qualification to lead UNGA, Nigeria is unanimously supported to fly the Africa’s candidacy and the West Africa’s slot within the continent in view of its contributions to the sub-region and the continent.
“Since joining the United Nations as its 99th member in 1960, Nigeria has worked constructively with other member-states towards the achievement of the organisation’s goals.
“It has served many times on the Security Council and is an active member of numerous committees, including the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.
“Today, Nigeria is among the most notable troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions.
“In addition, through its membership of both ECOWAS and the African Union, Nigeria has vigorously promoted functional partnerships in Africa, as well as between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organisations.
“Nigeria has also sought and obtained, the organisation’s support in tackling some of the tough challenges it has faced, especially, the fight against international terrorism,” Muhammad-Bande said.
Analysts say with the myriad of global challenges ranging from climate change, terrorism, and growing inequality, there is no better time for a highly qualified personality of Muhammad-Bande’s status to lead UNGA than now.
“Muhammad-Bande will no doubt bring his vast experience to bear on providing solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges as he climbs into the exalted position at the 74th General Assembly due to commence in September.
“Africa also looks forward to his leadership to deal with political violence and people’s movement sweeping across the continent,” Dr Uchenna Ekwo, of City University of New York, Said. (NANFeatures)