NEW YORK – Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan in his address to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday night, focused on the efforts of his administration to ensure peace and security in Nigeria and other African countries.
He began with addressing the presence of terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria.
“Our response to these has been multi-faceted, as we seek to address the root causes of these threats, exploring opportunities for dialogue, improving law enforcement to ensure public safety and security,” he said.
The President said his government in his effort to rid the country of Boko Haram, his administration signed bilateral agreements with neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
He said: “On the multilateral front, the Lake Chad Basin Commission has been an excellent platform for cooperation. These efforts are aimed at safeguarding the security of our individual countries and denying extremists the use of our region as sanctuary”
As a peace advocate in other African countries, the president said his administration also gave 10 million US dollars to Guinea-Bissau to help the country to stabilize.
“Nigeria had committed and shall continue to commit herself to the attainment of regional and international peace and security, more so in close collaboration with the UN, the African Union and ECOWAS.”
Guinea-Bissau is another flash point of instability in the sub-region in which Nigeria and ECOWAS are engaged. The Contact Group, headed by Nigeria was set up by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS to help establish a transitional government with a view to returning that country to political and constitutional order.
While addressing the recent protest in the Middle East and African countries against the anti-Islam movie made in America, President Jonathan condemned the deliberate denigration of religious and cultural beliefs and sensitivities, which in turn led to counter reactions.
“Freedom of expression should not constitute the license to incitement. The freedom that we all hold dear and true should be exercised wisely and cautiously. Freedom of expression and religious tolerance must not be mutually exclusive but should be complimentary to each other.”
He said if the freedom of expression does not incite on others rights, “We eschew violence and deplore the needless losses of lives and destruction of property.”
Speaking on the crisis in Syria, the president called for peaceful solutions.
“I seize this opportunity to call on the Syrian people, in the face of seeming lack of concerted positive international action, to pause and find a solution to this crisis in a way that will benefit the Syrian nation.
“Nigeria stands ready to work with other countries to make the protection of innocent civilians caught in conflict situations a priority of the United Nations.
Speaking on the Security Council, the President called for expanded permanent membership.
“Nigeria believes that a reformed Security Council with expanded permanent membership will benefit from the unique experience and capacity that regional representatives could bring to bear on its work.”
ARMS TRADE TREATY
He also commented on the 2nd Review Conference on the implementation of the UN Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, saying the issue of adoption of legally binding Arms Trade Treaty deserves serious attention of the UN.
“I believe this important instrument could galvanize the international community to regulate the transfer of conventional weapons and curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons,” he said.
“There is no doubt that the absence of a global consensus to control the flow of such weapons, including small arms and light weapons, is fuelling conflicts, constraining growth and development and increasing human rights violations.”
In closing, the President addressed the unflattering statistics on maternal and child mortality in Nigeria, saying, “my Government has adopted measures for reversing this unhappy trend, in close collaboration with the Commission and the related ‘Every Woman Every Child Movement’.”