Following several gaps and flip-flops by Nigeria at the world stage, there is an increasing global pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint ministers and constitute ministers especially for key ministries, even as criticisms and condemnation have followed President Buhari’s absence at a key UN event over the weekend.
The pressure has continued unabated amid displeasure going by the performance of Nigeria particularly at the ongoing United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, United States.
In most of the meetings and bilateral talks, UN officials expressed shock with the approach Nigeria adopted and importance attached to such key engagements.
It was in that light that criticisms and condemnation have followed President Buhari’s absence at the Saturday meeting on Internally Displayed Persons (IDPs) and Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
The president’s absence has caused an uproar among Nigerian officials and disenchantment among UN officials on the mishandling of the event.
For instance, and because of lack of a clear-cut policy direction, Nigeria was said to have failed to make commitments to some of the 169 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
According to Thisday reporters who are on the president’s entourage, the inability of the Nigerian delegation to commit to some of the targets on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations General Assembly, followed the several gaffes made by the Nigerian mission in New York.
The lack of proper guidance was also blamed for Buhari’s tardy arrival for Pope Francis’ address at the UN, which deprived him of a brief interaction with the pope alongside other Heads of Government.
THISDAY reports that at the meetings on the SDGs, disappointment was expressed over the performance of Nigeria at the annual meeting of global leaders and government decision makers.
Nigeria has faced mounting criticism on the global stage over the absence of a cabinet to provide Buhari with a policy direction. Similar criticism followed the president’s four-day visit to the United States of America last July.
The absence of a cabinet and fiscal policies have also been fingered for the economic drift in the country and the exit of multitudes of foreign investors from the capital market.
The president’s absence at Saturday’s meeting on Internally Displayed Persons (IDPs) and the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, irrespective of the reason given by the presidency that the meeting was not on the president’s official itinerary caused an uproar among Nigerian officials and disenchantment among UN officials on the mishandling of the event.
For instance, owing to the absence of a clear-cut policy direction, Nigeria was said to have failed to make commitments to some of the 169 targets on the SDGs.
It was also reported that Nigeria failed to sign her commitment to end child marriage in the country as one of the targets.
Also, some of the meetings and bilateral talks going on at the 70th UN General Assembly are either at the Heads of State and Government or ministerial level.
The presence of permanent secretaries in some of these strategic meetings has not helped matters.
Accordingly, UN officials and Nigerian partners were said to have expressed their misgivings over Nigeria’s approach to international events in recent times.
This, they blamed on the absence of ministers to assist and guide Buhari’s policy direction. It is on this note that pressure has been mounted on Buhari to appoint ministers and have a full cabinet in place.
At the meeting with the Co-chairman of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Bill Gates, and Buhari, talks centred on how Nigeria could stand the course in delivering on some promises regarding critical sectors of the economy such as health, education, investment and development.
Though the meeting was a private affair, sources said Gates advised the president on the need for the government to be on track with the appointment of ministers in order to facilitate robust collaboration in those key areas with its global partners.
Gates was also said to have impressed it on Buhari and other top officials to expedite action in ensuring that immunisation remains effective and polio is eradicated completely.
Gates, whose foundation is a key player in global public health, assured Nigeria that he would continue to support the country’s efforts, as the achievement recorded as announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) guarantees new optimism for success.
Buhari was said to have informed his audience that health security was assured in Nigeria, as the war against the insurgency was being won with renewed hope and confidence in the country.
He said with directed focus on the military and support from friends of Nigerians, as well as the strong alliances being built with the neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun, considerable mileage had been achieved ensuring the safety of the population.
Speaking in the same vein, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute, said: “The Gates Foundation has supported Nigeria in operational funding for the polio eradication programme with $50 million annually which the federal government has always matched with counterpart contribution of $50 million.
“We are therefore happy to have a fulfilled partnership with the foundation, UNICEF and WHO, as Nigeria has been deleted from the list of polio endemic countries for having arrested the transmission of the disease for more than one year.”
In the same token, as Nigeria continues to receive global accolades for its delisting from the roster of polio endemic countries, former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammed Pate, has said Nigeria now has enormous goodwill across the globe to succeed.
Pate, who spoke on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, explained that the recognition “also gives Nigeria a sense of what it can achieve if it stays focused and work collaboratively”.
The former minister further stressed the need for Nigeria to concentrate on the 17 SDGs in order to address gaps associated with poverty and underdevelopment.
Pate also called for effective surveillance and immunisation in an effort to eradicate polio completely.
Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Muhammed, also announced that a formal declaration on this historic feat would take place in Nigeria in the next few weeks by the WHO team to be led by the Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan before the country’s leadership.
Meanwhile, Buhari is scheduled to speak today at the ongoing UN General Assembly.
The president is expected to speak on security, insurgency and the economy. The speech will be made around 9 pm Nigerian time.