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President Bola Tinubu

President Tinubu, others attend opening of UNGA 78 in New York

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Sept. 19, 2023

President Bola Tinubu and some Nigerian political leaders were among world leaders that attended the opening of the General Debate of the 78th session of the General Assembly at the UN headquarters on Tuesday in New York.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Tinubu was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Yusuf Tuggar and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Amb. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.

Other Nigerian officials on the delegation are: Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun; Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Ali Pate and Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anita.

Also on the delegation are: Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo; Minister of Solid Mineral, Dele Alake; Minister of Arts and Culture, Hannatu Musawa; and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu.

Others are: Akwa Ibom Governor, Umo Eno; Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo; Gov. Uba Sani of Kaduna; Gov. Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe; and Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq of Kwara, among others.

In his welcome remarks, the President of the 78th Session of the General Assembly, Mr. Dennis Francis, reiterated his deepest condolences to the Governments and peoples of Morocco and Libya.

The assembly president said the twin disasters of earthquakes and flooding had left thousands dead and untold more sufferings.

“It is my sincere hope that resources and relief can be expedited to support all those who now find themselves in desperate need.

“As a citizen of a climate-vulnerable region, I urge Member States to recognise the continued and escalating impacts of climate change – and to deliver real, transformative results.

“Let us work together to unlock the finances and resources required to support those most vulnerable in mitigation, adaptation, and resilience-building,” he said.

He called on Members States to continue to work on the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index – with the aim of moving beyond GDP to a measure of economic development that effectively captures a country’s true vulnerability to external shocks.

“Let us work together to unlock the finances and resources required to support those most vulnerable in mitigation, adaptation, and resilience-building,’’ the assembly president said.

Francis acknowledged several former Presidents of the General Assembly, including Han Seung-soo, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea who served as President of the 56th Session of the Assembly, and who now sits as Chair of the UN Council of Former Presidents of the General Assembly (UNCPGA).

NAN reports that no fewer than 145 world leaders are attending the largest diplomatic gathering, among who are the Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva, U.S, President, Joe Biden and Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

By tradition, Brazil was the first speaker that opened the General Debate, and has spoken first for over seven decades because, at the early General Assembly sessions, it volunteered to start when no other country did.

Also by tradition, U.S, has been the second speaker as the host country and Biden took turn to deliver his speech after Silva.

In his speech, Biden emphasised unity and global cooperation, saying  the global body must “continue to preserve peace, prevent conflict and alleviate human suffering.

“The United States seeks a more secure, more prosperous, more equitable world for all people, because we know our future is bound to yours.

“Let me repeat that again: We know our future is bound to yours. And no nation can meet the challenges of today alone.”

NAN reports that Nigerian President Tinubu is the 12th speaker in the afternoon session and he is slated to deliver his statement around 6pm local time, while Zelenskyy is 12th speaker in the morning session of the first day of the General Debate.

NAN also reports that this the first in-person appearance of Zelenskyy at the UN since the Russian Invasion of his country in 2022, the General Assembly voted to grant his special dispensation to submit a pre-recorded speech.

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