Although Boko Haram insurgency is largely Nigeria’s problem, President Muhammadu Buhari and his delegation were absent at a United Nation’s meeting to discuss and proffer solution to the problems of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country.
The United Nations, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, appealed on Friday for help for millions of people in the Lake Chad Basin region forced to flee the violence of Boko Haram and hit with repeated droughts and floods that have brought malnutrition and disease. But Nigeria was not represented at the event chaired by the United Nations aid chief Stephen O’Brien, to the disappointment of US and European Union diplomats.
However, the Presidency has maintained that President Buhari’s absence at the event does not mean he is not committed to improving national security and succour for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
According to a statement by Garba Shehu, SSA to the President (Media & Publicity) in reaction to the earlier report that Buhari and his delegation to the United Nations missed the meeting to discuss and proffer solution to the problems of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Shehu said: “Contrary to the erroneous impression that may have been created by reports that the Nigerian delegation to the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly missed a meeting on help for displaced persons, President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration remain fully committed to the rehabilitation and well-being of all persons who have been displaced or adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.”
The statement said the IDPs have been central to his discussion with other world leaders since his arrival in New York on Thursday night.
“The issues were dominant in the President’s conversations on Friday with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the King of Spain, His Majesty Don Felipe VI and former Prime-minister Gordon Brown who came with former President Olusegun Obasanjo to discuss the actualization of the safe schools initiative, which is of special interest in parts of Nigeria most vulnerable to terrorist attacks,” Shehu said.
“President Buhari is handling his duty as leader of the Nigerian delegation to this year’s General Assembly with the greatest possible diligence and will certainly not tolerate any tardiness on the part of the delegation in seizing every possible opportunity to advance Nigeria’s interests.
“This notwithstanding, it must be realized that it will be near impossible for any national delegation, no matter its size, to participate in all the meetings that are simultaneously happening in and around the General Assembly in New York.
“The meeting at which Nigeria was reportedly absent was not one the official events of the United Nations for which President Muhammadu Buhari and his modest delegation are in New York.
“While the meeting referred to in media reports is commendable, it was not the only one or the most important of such meetings in New York that are paying attention to the problem of insecurity, migration and violent extremism in the Lake Chad area and the rest of the world,” the statement by Shehu said.
The event where the IDPs were discussed in the absence of the Nigerian delegation was an event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Shehu said the country was represented earlier today at an important side event devoted to the North-East called by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on “Building Stability and Resilience in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin Countries.”
He said the president was fully conscious of his responsibility to Nigeria and will accept nothing short of the best for Nigerians in the meetings taking place in and around the United Nations.
“Anyone trying to create an impression of dereliction of duty, based on the Nigerian delegation’s absence at an unofficial meeting, is only being mischievous and uncharitable,” he said.