Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has been elected as the 74th President of the United Nations General Assembly with top bureaucrats of the world body extolling him as a scholar and diplomat who “bring(s) many important and admirable qualifications to the job.”
His election followed an affirmative vote in New York on Tuesday by member-nations as Muhammad-Bande was the only candidate who stood for the elective position. This was announced by outgoing and 73rd UNGA President, Ambassador Maria Espinosa Garcés.
Also elected were Vice-Presidents and Main Committee Bureau members of the UN General Assembly. The new executives will assume powers in September when the current president’s tenure comes to an end.
“My sincere congratulations to HE Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande #Nigeria, for his election as 74th #UNGA President. Amba. Tijjani brings with him an outstanding career both as a scholar & diplomat. My team & I will be at your disposal to ensure the smoothest transition possible #UN4ALL,” Garcés later said in a tweet on her official Twitter handle.
“Professor Bande, you bring many important and admirable qualifications to the job. From your years as Permanent Representative of Nigeria, you know the United Nations well. From your wide-ranging academic pursuits, you are an expert in political science and public administration,” UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said in a speech after the election.
“And as a Nigerian and an African, you have invaluable insights into the continent’s challenges – such as the Sahel and Lake Chad basin – and more broadly into the challenges our world faces across the three pillars of our work, peace, sustainable development and human rights. We wish you well in your preparations for this role in the months ahead.” Guterres concluded.
Garcés had earlier visited the Nigerian capital, Abuja last month where she met behind closed-doors with President Muhammadu Buhari and top officials of the government. The Buhari administration had used its weight and network to lobby other countries and it culminated in a unanimous, affirmative vote for Muhammad-Bande on Tuesday.
“I am honoured by the trust placed in me. We have to assume collective responsibility to make the world a better and safer one,” president-elect, Muhamad-Bande said during his acceptance speech.
The African Union, Rwanda, France, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina, Austria and several countries have sent in their congratulatory messages promising to support the Nigerian-led assembly when it begins work in the last quarter of the year.
Second Nigerian to head UNGA presidency
Muhammad-Bande becomes the second Nigerian to be elected President of UNGA after Major General Joseph Nanven Garba who held the position as the 44th President of the United Nations General Assembly between 1989 and 1990.
He was born at Zagga in Kebbi state, northwest Nigeria and attended Ahmadu Bello University for undergraduate studies where he received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1979 before proceeding to Boston University, Massachusetts, USA where he earned an M.A in Political Science in 1981. He later got a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1987.
Professor Bande was, from January 2000 to February 2004, the Director-General of the Centre African de Formation et de Recherche Administrative pour le Development (CAFRAD) in Tangier, Morocco. It is Africa’s premier institution with responsibility for training and research in public administration and management.
He was the Vice-Chancellor Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto between 2004 and 2009. He also served as former Director-General of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Nigeria from 2010 till March 2016. It is Nigeria’s premier policy training institution.
Muhammad-Bande will be assuming office at a time that the United Nations is gearing up to commemorate its 75th anniversary next year. “I hope we can use (the anniversary) to reaffirm the value of international cooperation and the vision of the Charter.” Guterres also said at the gathering.
When the new president takes office in September, it will be coming at a crucial time that the world body is focusing on a series of meetings such as the Climate Action Summit, Sustainable Development Goals Summit, high-level meetings on universal health coverage, including small island developing states and financing for sustainable development.
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