From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
As the 72nd United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York opens in New York, today, President Muhammadu Buhari will seek the cooperation of world leaders for repatriation of the country’s looted funds.
The theme of this year’s general debate is: “Focusing on people: Striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet.”
The president is reportedly worried that despite strenuous efforts to retrieve monies stashed away in various foreign bank accounts in Europe and the United States of America, in particular, their governments are reluctant to assist his administration in repatriating them.
He is also unhappy that the foreign governments have introduced various technicalities which have caused a slowdown in efforts to recover the monies.
According to a top Presidency source, Buhari is also alarmed that despite the ongoing anti-corruption war in the country, some governments are said to be demanding firm guarantees that the monies, if retrieved, would not be re-looted by corrupt officials in the country.
The source said the president, during his presentation at today’s opening, will highlight his administration’s efforts and successes at rooting out corruption as well as list developmental projects the repatriated funds would be channeled.
According to the source, Buhari’s administration believes that foreign governments have no reason to continue to retain looted funds because his government has demonstrated seriousness in tackling endemic corruption, since assumption of office.
President Buhari will also speak to the world leaders on his administration’s effort to tackle security issues as well as revive the economy.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had, in a statement released prior to the president’s departure for the US, given details of the president’s United Nations’ engagements.
He had said that beyond the national statement, Buhari would join other world leaders at the welcoming reception to be hosted by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who he would later hold a bilateral meeting with.
Buhari will also hold a lunch meeting with US President, Donald Trump, alongside other world leaders.
The statement had disclosed that during the General Assembly, Nigeria will participate in high level meetings on ‘Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: Building Momentum for Change,’ the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, a high-level event organised by the African Union, under its theme of the Year: ‘Roadmap on the demographic dividend: from commitment to action,’ among others.
At the events, president Buhari and his delegation will strive to project Nigeria as a strong moral force and responsible member of the international community.
The statement said Nigeria’s commitment to global peace, security and development would also be reaffirmed and where necessary, the need for increased international cooperation in the fight against corruption.
Other priorities for the Nigerian delegation at UNGA 72 include strengthening human rights institutions; the rule of law; support for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), as a result of terrorist acts and recent flooding, and mitigating the effects of climate change.