President Bola Ahmed Tinubu made his debut on the global stage yesterday during the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States.
In his maiden speech at this prestigious event, President Tinubu emphasized Nigeria’s and other African nations’ willingness to engage with genuine foreign partners.
Addressing the Assembly on its opening day, President Tinubu joined several other world leaders in condemning the exploitation of Africa’s resources by powerful foreign entities. He stressed the importance of upholding the will and autonomy of African nations, calling for an end to the pillaging of their natural wealth.
Among the first speakers at the gathering were UNGA President and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dennis Francis, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, Brazilian President Inacio Lula, and others. This diverse group of leaders echoed similar concerns regarding the unsustainable exploitation of resources in Africa.
President Tinubu’s presence at the UNGA signifies Nigeria’s commitment to seeking fair and equitable partnerships with foreign nations. The President’s speech serves as a strong call to action for respecting the sovereignty and self-determination of African countries.
Tinubu said: ”The question is not whether Nigeria is open for business. The question is how much of the world is truly open to doing business with Nigeria and Africa in an equal, mutually beneficial manner.
“Direct investment in critical industries, opening their ports to a wider range and larger quantity of African exports and meaningful debt relief are important aspects of the cooperation we seek.”
The general debate, which opened at the UN headquarters provides an opportunity for Heads of State and Government to express their views on major international issues.
President of the session, Ambassador Francis, presided over the opening of the debate.
Tinubu, Chairman of Authorities of Heads of States of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), spoke on behalf of Nigeria and Africa.
He addressed the event’s theme: “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.”
The President expressed confidence that with fair international cooperation, African nations would make meaningful economic progress and achieve the 2030 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He also affirmed democratic governance “as the best guarantor of the sovereign will and well-being of the people. Military coups are wrong, as is any tilted civilian political arrangement that perpetuates injustice.
“The wave crossing parts of Africa does not demonstrate favour towards coups. It is a demand for solutions to perennial problems.
“Regarding Niger, we are negotiating with the military leaders. As Chairman of ECOWAS, I seek to help re-establish democratic governance in a manner that addresses the political and economic challenges confronting that nation, including the violent extremists who seek to foment instability in our region. I extend a hand of friendship to all who genuinely support this mission.”
Pledging to create jobs and “belief in a better future” for Nigerians, Tinubu stressed that Nigeria must lead by example to fulfil its duty to Nigerians and other Africans.
He highlighted five “important points,” including a call for debt relief, investment in critical industries and access to African exports.
The president also condemned coups and bad governance in Africa and criticised foreign nationals and firms for looting Africa’s resources.
He boldly told the gathering that Africa was not a problem, but a key to the world’s future.
Tinubu also explained why he removed “corrupt “ petrol subsidy and the “noxious” currency exchange system. He said that the two actions have boosted investors’ confidence and paved the way for Nigeria’s ecoHe noted that many proclamations have been made at UNGA 2023, yet many parts of Africa have troubles at hand.
His words: “Failures in good governance have hindered Africa. But broken promises, unfair treatment and outright exploitation from abroad have also exacted a heavy toll on our ability to progress.
“Given this long history, if this year’s theme is to mean anything at all, it must mean something special and particular to Africa.”
The President noted that following the Second World War and nations’ attempts to rebuild their societies, the UN was formed as a symbol and protector of humanity’s aspirations and ideals.
The aftermath of the war, according to him, also led to the Marshall Plan, an American initiative enacted in 1948, to provide foreign aid to Western Europe.
Tinubu therefore sought similar assistance for Africa.
He said: “Nations saw that it was in their own interests to help others exit the rubble and wasteland of war. Reliable and significant assistance allowed countries emaciated by war to grow into strong and productive societies.