How Buhari Became the Toast of World Leaders At UNGA

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By Akeem Akintayo

President Muhammadu Buhari’s participation at the 2019 edition of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which held in New York was a unique outing in terms of contribution he made on behalf of  Nigeria and Africa.

Apart from the non-flamboyant nature of the logistics for his participation which included the absence of a long convoy of vehicles that usually heralds the arrival of a typical Nigerian Head of State, the highly reduced number of delegates who accompanied him on the trip, his determination and courage to ensure that modesty prevailed in the affairs of state made, President Buhari’s impact on the international community was quite outstanding.

The climax of the participation was recorded when he recommended solutions to the threat of nuclear war. The recommendation which was contained in his speech almost had an instant effect in quenching the war thirsty leaders who had rolled up their sleeves for a show down with North Korea courtesy of that country’s threat and appetite for a nuclear war.

He said:  “All necessary pressure and diplomatic efforts must be brought to bear to accept peaceful solution of the crises. As the Hiroshima and Nagasaki painfully remind us, if we fail, the catastrophic and devastating human loss and environmental degradation cannot be imagined’’.

He proposed the setting up of a strong UN delegation to urgently engage the North Korean leader. President Buhari also suggested that the proposed delegation be led by the UN Security Council and that members from other regions of the world should make up the team. His recommendations also included practical solutions that other world leaders could tap into and utilise towards achieving peaceful solutions to disasters and potential dangers in their respective domain.  From his position on the North Korea threat, it was obvious that he knows the consequences of a nuclear war.

No wonder the international media said that President Buhari spoke as if he is the President of Africa. He was calm, bold, firm, insistent and resolute in his presentations unlike a lot of other African heads of state who were so combative in their submissions as if diplomatic manoeuvring belong to the domain of the physical  as against the domains of negotiations and lobbies.

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President Buahri’s presentation served as a relief from the tense atmosphere caused by the North Korean threat at the meeting. It will be recalled that insults, abuses, name-calling and threats to human existence concerning North Korea, Iran, Myanmar and Syria were the order of the day before and during the 2019 UNGA.

However, back in Nigeria, critics wondered why President Buhari should focus more on solving international problems rather than telling the world about the Nigerian lingering problems of corruption, ethno-religious and regional tension, herdsmen/farmers clashes and clamours for re-structuring.

They seem to have forgotten that the world is a global village and that no country is an Island, just as what touches one touches all. They also forgot that issues about nuclear war fare poses potential dangers to human existence and that a peaceful world would allow other social, political and economic development issues to thrive

It is worrisome that some Nigerians do not properly analyse issues before taking positions or even ventilating their thoughts or venting their anger.

Recently critics of President Muhammadu Buhari called for his head when he voiced out his frustration at an international event hosted by former British Prime Minister David Cameroon. At the forum Buhari spoke on the stigma that corruption has attached to the nation and his resolve to fight it to a stand-still both at home and abroad.

The same critics castigated the President for always going abroad to preach about the problems of Nigeria, thereby “demarketing” the country at the international forum.

In order to prove to his critics that he knows what he is doing, the President has gone to UNGA to tell the international community how Nigeria is solving its local problems and how the same formula can be applied in seeking solutions to global challenges. The posture of these critics confirms that adage that a prophet is not honoured at his home but abroad.

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If world leaders like Donald Trump of the US, former Secretary General of the UN Mr. Ban Ki Moon, media organizations like CNN and others can commend President Buhari for his simplicity, charismatic and solution-driven leadership in a tense world, then he must have a point

Based on his conduct and performance at the UNGA Nigerians have every reason to celebrate their President. It will be recalled that deliberations at the general assembly were dominated by heated debates on nuclear threats and confrontations between the world powers and North Korea.  It got to points where speakers resorted to insults on each other while at the world stage.

This situation gives an incline that the world is being led by leaders who seem to have jettisoned decorum and decency and have towed the line of passionate personal attacks that threaten corporate existence and survival.

It is worthy of note that most of the leaders who presented their prepared speeches, aimed at heating up the already tense debate in tackling what was perceived as the excesses of Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Iran.

It took the President of Nigeria to calm down frayed nerves. Rather than throw tantrums, he came with a pragmatic solution to threats of a nuclear war which was admired by most citizens of the world whose survival and existence lie in the hands of combative leaders who have shown less decorum and respect for each other in resolving a stand-off that potentially threatens human existence.

If President Buhari is the toast of other world leaders, then Nigerians who have not noticed such quality in their leader should think twice. It is only hoped that Nigeria will not be victim of the adage which says that you will not know the value of what you have until you lose it.

*Akintayo is a Foreign Affairs analyst based in Abuja

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