On Ban Ki-moon’s visit
THE United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Nigeria, the other day, was an appropriate opportunity to convey the global body’s positive perception of developments here since the last general elections and to nudge the country towards meeting global expectations. Hence, Ban’s words on that visit were at once warm and exhorting: Nigeria has come a long way but still has some distance to go.
Regarding the outcome of the last general elections, he was full of praise for the exemplary statesmanship demonstrated by both President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Goodluck Jonathan. In his words, ‘For the first time in Nigerian history, a sitting president peacefully ceded power to an opposition candidate in a democratic election. The elections sent a strong global message of respect for democracy and the rule of law.” Indeed, Ban left no one in doubt that Nigeria has also earned the respect of the global community.
On the raging counter-terrorism fight, he pledged UN’s support and expressed the hope that the multinational task force would help defeat Boko Haram insurgency in the country. However, he noted that addressing the underlying causes of insurgency was of utmost importance and stressed the need to expand educational and employment opportunities for young people.
The plight of the Chibok girls also caught his attention. He bemoaned the unimaginable travails of the abducted girls, the consequent truncation of their lives as well as the assault on the psyche of parents and all Nigerians. He then called on their abductors to free them unconditionally even as he urged the government to intensify efforts to ensure their rescue.
The UN scribe further expressed his support for the ongoing policies of the Muhammadu Buhari administration and correctly hinged on Nigeria’s shoulder the African continent’s destiny. According to him, “when you change Nigeria, you will also change Africa.”
The immense contribution of Nigeria to UN peacekeeping operations globally was also a focus of his praise as he acknowledged the stabilising role of Nigeria in the West African sub-region and its current role as president of the UN Security Council.
Nigeria’s quest for change, according to Ban, would benefit from the recent agreement by UN member-states on the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDA) and the financing vehicle embedded in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, a platform for financing development central to implementing the SDA, the successor programme to the Millennium Development Goal (MDG).
That visit has an obvious lesson for Nigeria, namely, when a nation does right, the world takes note. And there are benefits, tangible and intangible. The fairly good conduct of the last general elections with a consequent transfer of power from a ruling party to an opposition party without violence often associated with elections in many parts of the continent, has truly won Nigeria global commendation. The country must, therefore, harness the social capital of the moment coming from the global community in the task of national development. Exemplary behaviour has reward in the international system and Nigeria must not squander this prevailing goodwill.
The country has a life-time opportunity to build on the gains of the last election and stand as a beacon of hope to the rest of the continent.
Nigeria’s manifest destiny is to lead the way for Africa. And it can only lead by example. It is important to note that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in its interface with Mr. Ki-moon sought the support of the UN and its agencies in its peer review processes. This is good. But the governors, as leaders, should lead by example and ensure active participation of the people in the governance process. A culture of good governance must be enthroned to enhance the country’s present positive profile.
President Buhari should also make the best of the UN scribe’s invitation to the General Assembly meeting holding this month to sell the country to the world and tap from the current reservoir of goodwill to attract development to the country.