Buhari arrives New York, to push vaccine equity at UNGA

• Pro, anti-Buhari groups clash in New York
• Sowore’s group mobilises for fresh protest, lists four demands
• Yoruba Nation agitators vow to hold historic protest on Friday despite presidency’s warning

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, arrived in New York, United States, for high-level meetings of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the President was received at the JF Kennedy International Airport, New York by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.

Other Nigerian officials on the ground to welcome the President were Minister of State, Power, Goddy Jeddy-Agba; his environment counterpart, Sharon Ikeazor; Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar, and Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Uzoma Emenike, among others.

Buhari would be the second head of state to address the high-level session of the General Assembly on the fourth day of the General Debates around 9:00 a.m. local time on Friday, September 24, when he would speak on the theme of the conference and other global issues.

At the ongoing General Assembly, President Buhari would join other global leaders to push for global vaccine access. This was announced by the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Muhammad-Bande. He stated that Nigeria will join other world leaders to push for global COVID-19 vaccine equity.

According to the envoy, the issue of equal access to vaccines was paramount at the 76th session of the General Assembly, themed ‘Building Resilience through Hope – To Recover from COVID-19, Rebuild Sustainably, Respond to the Needs of the Planet, Respect the Rights of People and Revitalise the United Nations.’

The envoy said: “There is nothing more challenging and more pressing now than the global health; it is extremely urgent. So, the President will join others and push for global vaccine equity.”

The Nigerian leader is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with a number of leaders of other countries’ delegations and heads of international development organisations.

Muhammad-Bande added that Nigeria would be sharing success stories with the Assembly on its role in stabilising the West African region as well as joining others to bringing peace and security to the region.

He said: “We are aware that we have to prosecute the war on terror in our region, counter-terrorism is in mind. We are also mindful of our responsibility in education and health. When you look at efforts in education, health, or global peace, you will always see Nigeria taking the lead.

“Nigeria has a lot to offer but also has worries about how terrorist groups move to countries, it is a concern how they procure arms. Nigeria is not a country that produces arms but we are worried so that arms will not get to the wrong hands. This is a very important discussion for the continent. Nigeria will deal with this issue and global peace.’’

The 76th session of the General Assembly began on September 14 and will end on September 27.
MEANWHILE, two Nigerian groups, yesterday confronted each other in New York over the state of things in the country. The groups converged on Nigerian House on 42nd Street, 2nd Avenue, airing opposing views about the conditions in Nigeria and its unity.

The protests came as President Buhari began his scheduled activities for UNGA at a venue close to the Nigerian Mission.x

The first group of Nigerians in Diaspora said they were there to show their support for their fatherland as world leaders assembled for the annual event.

Led by Emmanuel Duara, the group, by the name ‘One Nigeria Group,’ expressed their support for President Buhari and the indissolubility of the country.

Speaking to reporters amid chants of one Nigeria, he said: “We are the biggest country in Africa and the biggest black country in the world. Whatever is going on among tribes in Nigeria, let us sit down and settle it.”

The group members waved the country’s flag, wore white T-shirts, and displayed banners announcing progress made under this administration, their commitment to one Nigeria, and a yearning for peace and progress.

They were, however, opposed by anti-Buhari protesters who called for a referendum to determine the fate of the country.

Also speaking to reporters, one of the leaders of the counter group, Foluso Aruleba, highlighted the various problems confronting Nigeria as a nation, asserting that there can be no peace without justice. She regretted that the Buhari administration had continued to borrow money among the declining value of the naira.

Aruleba demanded a referendum, alleging that plans were on to invade Yorubaland, which she stated would not be acceptable.

ACTIVISTS under the aegis of the TakeItBack movement have mobilised for a fresh protest at the UN headquarters on Friday when President Buhari is billed to speak. This is as Yoruba Nation and Biafra agitators had announced to embark on “mother of all protests” at the UN headquarters the same day.

The movement announced its plan to hold a protest in a statement titled, ‘Protest Call At The UN General Assembly’, by its Global Director of Mobilisation, Gbola Owoborode, yesterday.

The group listed four demands for the protest among which are: The administration should immediately free one of its leaders, Omoyele Sowore, unconditionally and drop all charges; immediate release of all political prisoners, including Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho and the over 300 #EndSARS activists still under illegal detention; an end to terrorism, kidnappings and banditry that have completely ravaged the entire country and the resignation of the President for failing to guarantee the security and welfare of Nigerians.

SPEAKING on the protest, the umbrella body of the Yoruba self-determination groups, Ilana Omo Oodua, has said the Yoruba Nation march on Friday will be historic. Spokesperson for the group, Maxwell Adeleye, said no amount of threat by the Presidency would stop the agitators from progressing with their plan.

According to him, measures have been put in place to ensure that the march is peaceful. He said the march was organised to show to the world the ordeal, suffering and subjugation of the indigenous people of the South and Middle-belt of Nigeria in the hands of the Federal Government.

Adeleye said: “We are ready to hold a peaceful march. It will be historic and the UN Assembly will feel our presence more on that day. It will also be the mother of all protests in terms of population.

“Any attempt by the Presidency to rubbish our march will fail. We are peace-loving and we will continue to ensure that our actions are peaceful. We have no business with IPOB. However, FG should declare the real terrorists as insurgents.”

The Federal Government had in a statement last week threatened to judge the Yoruba Nation agitators by the company they keep, saying that no one should take them seriously.

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