By Menkiti Onyebuchi Bernie,
Nigeria’s foreign policy engagements and global diplomatic outlook haven’t been particularly great in recent times. Rising from her diplomatic policy spat with the US over visa fee reciprocity to the issues of even more damning consequence; South Africa xenophobia attacks which induced reprisals in Nigeria, the troubles seems unabating.
However, a diplomatic bright light seem to have finally illuminated the dark allay of the country’s global notoriety following the expected change of leadership guards in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) today, which will see Nigeria assume leadership.
The expiration of the tenure of the leadership led by the outgoing UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, a former Ecuadorian ambassador to the UN will pave way for Nigeria to assume full responsibility of the global body affairs.
The Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN was elected President of the 74th session of the UNGA by acclamation on Tuesday, June 4. She is by UN rules to serve for one year. This new responsibility is coming as stretched as 30years after the country first led the UNGA following her membership of the body on 7th October, 1960.
To keen observers, this diplomatic responsibility comes in shades of two points, each a positive opportunity for Nigeria.
First, the 75th anniversary will among other things call for a reflection of the organisations journey. It is therefore expected to be a time Nigeria would cease to show her capacity in leading course in global affairs.
The outgoing UN General Assembly President María Fernanda made reference to this in a recent interview of which diplomaticwatch.com was present; she said that the 75th anniversary of the creation of the institution is a time for reflection as well as celebration.
She further said that the anniversary offers both “opportunities” and “serious challenges, and that the UN is more vital than ever in a time of rising nationalism and extremism.”
Speaking on the shaky positions of the UN in todays world affairs, she said, “We sometimes speak of this moment as ‘a crossroads’ – where things could go either way,” she said. “But it feels more and more like a tipping point – as though we are on the brink of irreparable damage to our rules-based international system. We are seeing a growing disconnect between people, governments and institutions.”
She said the world “badly needs an effective United Nations,” and that in addition to challenges of poverty and conflict, rapid shifts in technology and the present threat of climate change means “there is virtually no challenge – or opportunity – that does not require cooperation between nations.”
On the other hand, the country’s permanent representative to the UN, Professor Tijani Muhammad Bande has shown flashes of astuteness since his appointment. He rekindles hope for success as he assumes the absolute responsibility as the president of the UNGA, especially at a time Africa continues to fall short of the spell-out of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) of the organisation.
He has vast experience in foreign relations having been the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations. He also has served as the Vice President of the General Assembly during the body’s 71st session in September 2016.
Prof. Bande UNGA mandate will include stern attention to climate change, quality education, peace and global security, poverty and hunger.
He is a Nigerian diplomat and an administrator in public service. He has a degree in political science and was born on 7 December 1957 in the town of Zagga in present-day Kebbi State. According to records at our disposal, in 1979, he attended Ahmadu Bello University where he was decorated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. And moved on to Boston University, where he graduated with a Master of Arts in Political Science in 1981.
The home government has shown strong support to this course by dispatching a three man diplomatic team to see to the assumption of Prof. Bande into the office of the president of the UNGA, in a ceremony which will take place for two days during a week long UNGA meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York, US.