2017 UN General Assembly: What roles will the Governors and Ministers play?

by Alexander O. Onukwue

Three state Governors and the cabinet Ministers are with President Buhari in New York for the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Governors Abdulaziz Yari, Rotimi Akeredolu and Dave Umahi of Zamfara, Ondo and Ebonyi were chosen to go with the President to his first and only international event of the year so far. Chairman of the Governors Forum, Mr Yari, and Mr Umahi were among the six Governors who visited Buhari while he was in London back in July.

Some of Buhari’s ministers are in New York, led by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama. Mr Onyeama has been one of the more active, even if less popular, Ministers of the present administration, representing Nigeria’s foreign interests on various issues. He recently was in Sierra Leone to commiserate with the Government on the disastrous and fatal effects of the August landslides, while also handling the deportations of Nigerians from countries like Libya. The Foreign Affairs Minister will have an opportunity to reach out to the Missions in South Africa and India, amongst other countries, where Nigerians have been reportedly treated unjustly.

Among the first members of the delegation expected to be involved in the events of the General Assembly is the presently embattled Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Jummai Alhassan. The high-level meeting on “Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: Building Momentum for Change” holds on Monday, 18th September.

Also with Buhari in New York is the Environment Minister, Ibrahim Usman Jibril. The UNGA is holding against the backdrop of a global convocation of floods and hurricanes, from which Nigeria has not been spared. Climate Change response and mitigation will be one of the agendas to be pushed for by the Nigerian delegation, and the Mr Jibril will very likely reunite with the immediate past Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, who is now the Deputy Secretary General of the UN.

Cooperation for anti-corruption is a major agenda in UN circles. The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, has been mentioned in the media recently more for his wrestles with EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, over the issue of prosecutions of corruption cases. Hopefully, the country will make a case for its anti-corruption campaign, affirming the unity of agencies involved, and seeking cooperation of international authorities who could be of assistance.

Other Ministers we can expect to play significant roles include the Ministers of Finance, Agriculture and Trade and Investment. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the administration’s ombudsman will be expected to provide information to the Nigerian news media on the activities of the Nigerian delegation.

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