Accruable Benefits Of 78th UNGA To Nigeria
Accruable Benefits Of 78th UNGA To Nigeria

By Jide Ojo

One of my major concerns about President Bola Tinubu is his health. He came across as someone who is frail and suffering from health challenges during the party primaries and campaigns. He committed

a couple of gaffes in the course of that period and there was this song some mischievous political opponents sang about “Baba wey no well wey they shout emilokan.” I thought we are back to the Buhari era where the president will be frequently jetting out for Medicare abroad. Interestingly, the Jagaban of Borgu has dispelled all our fears about his ill-health and has shown himself as being as fit as a fiddle.

As I write this, Tinubu is attending his inaugural United Nations General Assembly as President of Nigeria. He is scheduled to speak later this evening for 15 minutes. Last week, he attended the G-20 summit in India and has also not missed any of the global summits to which he was invited. I pray God to sustain his good health. There is no gainsaying that he meant well for Nigeria even if his approval rating right now is low given the aftermath of the removal of subsidy on petrol on May 29, 2023. Rising cost of living has pitched the masses against the president with the labour unions embarking on protests and warning strike, threatening to embark on indefinite strike if president did not sufficiently cushion the effects of the subsidy removal on workers and by extension, the Nigerian masses.

According to press statement released by the spokesperson of the president, Ajuri Ngelale, last Saturday, September 16, six governors, seven ministers and some senior aides accompanied President Bola Tinubu to the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States. On the entourage of the president are Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State; Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State; Hope Uzodinma of Imo State; Uba Sani of Kaduna State; AbdulRahman AbdulRazak of Kwara State; Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.

Others are Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar; Coordinating Minister of the Economy & Finance, Mr Wale Edun, Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Mohammed Pate; Minister of Defence, Abubakar Badaru; Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Mr Dele Alake, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu; and Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite. The National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and other senior government officials also accompanied Tinubu.

The theme of this year’s UNGA is: “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.” Ajuri’s press statement gave a breakdown of the president’s itinerary to include: Today, September 19, President Tinubu will deliver his inaugural national statement. Before engaging in the general debate, the President will join other world leaders to participate in the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (UN 2023 Summit on SDGs). President Tinubu’s address will encompass several issues, such as sustainable development, climate change, global cooperation, and the imperative to address inequalities and global humanitarian crises. Additionally, President Tinubu is slated to participate in the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development; High-Level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response; UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit; High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage; High-Level Panel on Reform of the Global Financial Architecture, amongst others.

In New York, President Tinubu is also scheduled to hold several bilateral meetings with world leaders, including the Presidents of the European Union Commission, Brazil, and South Africa, amongst others. The President will also advance his economic development agenda for aggressive investment attraction in meetings with the global leadership of transnational firms, such as Microsoft, Meta Technologies, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, and others. Furthermore, on the margins of the UNGA, President Tinubu will detail emerging cross-sectoral investment opportunities in Nigeria in his address to American business leaders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

It is noteworthy that while engaging with officials at the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations Headquarters in New York City, the number one citizen of Nigeria will have the honour of conducting the NASDAQ closing ceremony during its trading session, making President Tinubu the first African President to do this. The President will also address the Nigerian SMEs Business Summit, where he will seek to highlight the increasingly important role of Nigerian enterprises in global trade.

I was a guest analyst on Business Express on the Nigerian Television Authority yesterday at 3pm to assess the likely benefits accruable to Nigeria from this trip. For me, it is heart-warming that Nigeria is not missing in action. A global summit such as the UNGA is a forum to market the country. The world has become a global village and given Nigeria’s dire economic situation, it is imperative to reach out to other world leaders, industrialists and investors to come do business with the country. As it were, we have become politically stable after seven successive general elections and 24 years of uninterrupted civil rule. Nigeria also has the biggest market in Africa, being the most populated with over 200 million people and being the continent’s biggest economy. President Tinubu’s pledge to allow investors to repatriate their profits is sure to appeal to foreign investors.

I am very hopeful that the scheduled bilateral and multilateral meetings with tech giants like Microsoft, and Meta Technologies as well as international oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, where the president had previously worked, and General Electric, will bring in multibillion-dollar investment opportunities to Nigeria. What is most likely right now will be commitments with several months of follow-up meetings with high level government officials subsequently in order to close the deals. Thus, the ministers who have gone to the 78th UNGA with the president must be attentive and take copious notes of the needed follow-up actions. Conspicuously missing in the president’s entourage is the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi(SAN). I am of the considered view that his legal opinion on issues such as loans and investment laws in Nigeria will be needed on a trip like this.

At the sub-national level, the six governors, two of whom are from the opposing Peoples Democratic Party, need to also be alive to their responsibilities and ensure that they also bring sizable foreign direct investments to their respective states. Their attendance at the UN General Assembly should not be for jamboree or tourism. They should seize the initiative to strike deals with potential investors by effectively marketing investment potential in their states. A global platform such as the UNGA is a once-a-year opportunity.

Given the fact that the theme of this year’s UNGA is focusing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the global body in 2015 for a 15-year period, Nigeria will need to redouble its efforts aimed at attaining the SDGs which fall due in seven years (2030). Sincerely speaking, we are far off the tangent unless we retrace our steps and ensure proper financing and political will. All development indices are pointing southwards for Nigeria. Poverty, hunger, education, health, peace, justice and strong institutions, climate action, gender equality, clean water and sanitation remain a mirage in the country. At the 78th UNGA in New York, it is important for Nigeria to compare notes and learn from those who have made giant strides in the area of the SDGs.

As I said on NTA yesterday, while we wait for the foreign direct investments likely to come from this global summit, we have some housekeeping to do at the home front. Among them is for us to intensify the fight against corruption. Virgin Atlantic boss, Sir Richard Branson, said part of the reason that made the Virgin Nigeria investment collapse was as a result of Nigerian government officials asking for bribes and wanting to get favours such as not paying for flights. Thus, we need to tighten the nuts and bolts of our fight against corruption. We also need to intensify the war against terrorists and bandits. No sensible investors will want to come and invest in an insecure environment. The other thing is to strengthen our ease-of-doing-business policy such as visa-on-arrival policy,

access to land, easy clearance of goods at the ports, etc. Lastly is the industrial dispute mechanism. Our industrial courts must always be fair and uphold justice in industrial disputes.

X: @jideojong

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