By Chukwudi Enekwechi
Though the core area of Nigeria’s foreign policy since its admission as a member of the United Nations in 1960 has been that of non-alignment, it appears the current realities in the world have thrown up other challenges requiring visionary leadership.
Nigeria as a regional power in Africa under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has also taken up the responsibility to lead Africa in asserting its influence among the comity of nations. This leadership was well encapsulated in the address to world leaders by President Buhari at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA.
Having identified the yawning gap existing in the way and manner Africa has been represented at the United Nations over the years, President Buhari utilised the opportunity offered at the 72nd United General Assembly to provide leadership by charting a way forward on various topical issues.
While his address dwelt mainly on the theme “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet”, President Buhari offered pragmatic solutions to the thorny issue of North Korea and indeed other pressing global issues.
It has also been acknowledged that his proposal for a strong United Nation’s delegation to engage the recalcitrant regime in Pyongyang may after all be the panacea for the protracted crisis bedeviling the Korean Peninsula.
It is worthy of note that President Buhari’s proposal is realistic, and has the potential to resolve the impasse. Unfortunately North Korea’s belligerence in the fiasco has further exacerbated the crisis, and if not nipped in the bud can result in unimaginable conflict and catastrophe, not only in the Korean Peninsula, but across the globe.
Therefore, it is indeed heart-warming that Nigeria has finally got its acts together, and has today emerged as a force to be reckoned with at the United Nation’s global forum.
Apart from lending his voice to issues affecting some distant regions of the world like Yemen, Myanmar, and nearer home, The Gambia and Cote D’Ivoire, President Buhari used the opportunity to reiterate “Nigeria’s abiding commitment to the foundational principles and goals of the United Nations.”
This reaffirmation is instructive as Nigeria remains a responsible member of the international system where rule of law, democracy, and good governance are given priority.
President Buhari did not fail to inform the distinguished audience of the laudable achievements his administration has recorded in the war against corruption, as he acknowledged the strengthening of government institutions for the promotion of accountability and assets recovery.
He also introduced the basic principle of reciprocity, which is a norm in international relations by soliciting the international community’s support in eradicating corruption in Nigeria, while simultaneously pledging Nigeria’s cooperation in tackling “growing transnational crimes such as forced labour, modern day slavery, human trafficking and cybercrime.”
On an appreciative note, President Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged the solidarity of the international community with Nigeria, The Sahel and Lake Chad regions in containing the threats posed by Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram terrorists.
It is on record that the Security Council has been in the forefront in providing humanitarian aid to the restive North East of Nigeria, and President Buhari thanked them profusely for their effort at rebuilding the war-ravaged region. He also informed the World Leaders that his administration is providing relief and humanitarian assistance to millions of internally displaced people, and “those afflicted by terrorism, drought, floods, and other natural disasters.”
One lesson to learn from Nigeria’s outing at the 72nd UNGA is that once again the country is back to reckoning in global affairs and with Buhari in the saddle, Nigeria’s voice will remain resonant. It is also laudable that Nigeria has relaunched itself to global reckoning, as President Buhari’s address dwelt on critical issues affecting humanity at large
While our non-aligned policy on international affairs still subsist, President Buhari’s foray into some epicentres of global conflict demonstrated that even in a unipolar world as we presently have it, that visionary and proactive leadership is key to resolving conflicts and bringing lasting peace to some restive regions of the world.
In totality what manifested from his speech at the 72nd UN General Assembly meeting is the resolve to lead from the front and taking a back seat in international affairs is no longer fashionable, and the thunderous applause by the distinguished audience is a proof that his message resonated well with them.
Since the world is now a global village and the consequences of any action by one country can have far-reaching effects on other countries, it is imperative that influential countries like Nigeria play a significant role in building a world where peace will reign supreme.
President Buhari’s clarion call on the international community to continuously lend their support in the fight against terrorism by stopping ISIS from mutating and infiltrating into the Sahel and Lake Chad regions is also a proof of proactive leadership on the part of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Of course the dangers and implications of failing to monitor and counter the nefarious activities of the terrorists along our borders can be very horrendous and devastating, hence the need to draw the world attention to them.
Lastly, President Buhari’s address did not only offer workable solutions to some of the knotty issues in the world but apprised and applauded the efforts of the international community, especially the United Nations for providing shelter for thousands of refugees in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
*Enekwechi, Journalist and Politician wrote from Abuja and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org